Cuddyer, Rockies adjust, rally to sink Marlins

Cuddyer, Rockies adjust, rally to sink Marlins

Cuddyer, Rockies adjust, rally to sink Marlins
DENVER -- The Rockies parlayed a big bat off the bench -- and an even bigger bat off the disabled list -- to extend their win streak to four, beating the Marlins, 5-3, in the opening game of a four-game series on Thursday night.

Michael Cuddyer's two-run shot in his first game off the DL tied the game in the sixth inning, and Josh Rutledge, nursing a sore left quad, came off the bench to leg out a pinch-hit triple to plate the game-winner and score an insurance run on a squeeze bunt in the seventh.

Cuddyer may have looked rusty in his first two at-bats, striking out on a pair of Ricky Nolasco sliders that bounced past his swinging bat, but in a game marked by the Rockies' ability to adjust to a pitcher who had their number early, Cuddyer came back in his third at-bat to drive a slider deep into the left-field seats for a two-out, two-run, game-tying homer.

"The adjustment I made was if you just swing at enough of them, he'll hang one at least," Cuddyer said of Nolasco's slider. "Obviously the ones I struck out on were in the dirt, and this one wasn't."

Nolasco went the distance for an eight-inning complete game, but the more the Rockies saw of him, the more effectively they were able to break through against him.

"That's how funny this game is," Nolasco said. "You make good pitches all night and make a couple mistakes, and that's the game. I just left that ball up to Cuddyer. He's such a good hitter. We had some good battles tonight, and he got the important one there to tie the game."

Carlos Gonzalez set up the two-out homer by placing a beautiful bunt to third for a two-out base hit, taking advantage of an infield that had too much respect for his power to creep in on him.

"I got up right after that, and I told the catcher, 'I wish I had that in my bag,' because I would have brought it out too," Cuddyer said. "I'd have done the same thing."

It was the Rockies' 23rd come-from-behind victory of the season, accounting for more than half of their 45 wins. They fell behind early when Carlos Lee drove a solo homer to left to lead off the second. Colorado came back on a DJ LeMahieu triple to the left-center alley with two outs and a wild pitch with starting pitcher Alex White at the plate, allowing LeMahieu to score in the bottom of the inning. But the Marlins pulled back ahead when Lee walked to lead off the fourth, advanced to third on a single to right by Greg Dobbs, then came home on a wild pitch.

"Alex White could have gotten much deeper than he did," manager Jim Tracy said. "He had a tremendous sinker tonight. There were counts where I thought he would go right back to it and didn't. He threw a little bit more slider. With that sinker that he had tonight, as you look at it, you say to yourself, '[Even] if you know it's coming, what are you going to do with it?' But he threw some sliders, he gave counts back to hitters, and was erratic with his command, got his pitch count up and ran himself out of the game."

White was out after four innings, having thrown 74 pitches, one shy of the Rockies' pitch limit with their four-man rotation. He allowed two runs on three hits and three walks (one intentional) while striking out three. While acknowledging the effectiveness of his sinker, he doesn't have confidence in his command with it at this point.

"I just threw a lot of balls -- I think I threw 36 balls, 38 strikes, and that can't happen," White said. "With 75 pitches, I'm not going to get deep in the game doing that. That just kind of comes with corralling that two-seamer and getting it in the strike zone and not getting behind the hitters like I did."

Giancarlo Stanton became the third leadoff man in the first six innings to score when he launched a no-doubt rocket of a home run halfway up the center-field seats off Adam Ottavino, who made only one mistake in three solid innings of relief.

The Rockies broke out for a pair in the seventh, taking the lead when LeMahieu singled to center to open the inning, advanced to second on a wild pickoff attempt by the catcher, went to third on a sacrifice, and came home on rookie Rutledge's triple to right in his first big league pinch-hit at-bat.

"I took the same approach as normal, just trying to hit the ball up the middle," Rutledge said. "I wanted to look for a pitch that's a little up in the zone or at least get some backspin on it and hit to the outfield. That ended up working out for me, because all he threw me was sliders."

With the torrid bat of Eric Young Jr. stepping to the plate, Tracy called for the squeeze.

"Knowing the speed of Rutledge, and knowing he's probably going to break as soon as he sees ball hit bat, I'm trying to hit it on the ground no matter what," Young said. "In my head I'm thinking, I want him to take off as soon as I put it down, because I'm going to get it on the ground somehow."

Rutledge had even less patience than Young gave him credit for, due to his confidence in the outfielder, who is hitting .458 (27-for-59) since July 31.

"With EY up at bat, I knew he was going to get the ball down, so as soon as the pitcher's foot came down, I just went," Rutledge said.

The insurance run was gravy as the 'pen sealed the four-game winning streak, the Rockies' longest since they completed a five-game one on June 1.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.