Rockies avoid season and series sweep with 6-4 win over Nationals in Coors Field

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals failed to sweep the Colorado Rockies, dropping a 6-4 decision this afternoon, but taking two of three in Coors Field and 5 of 6 in the season series with the Rockies. Jorge De La Rosa K'd 11 and induced 10 ground ball outs for the win.

St. Mary's Glacier Memorial Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Denard Span singled off Jorge De La Rosa to start the game and scored on an error for a 1-0 lead early in the series and season finale with the Colorado Rockies this afternoon in Coors Field, but the home team rallied with a three-run first off Washington Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg with Corey Dickerson, Ben Paulsen and Michael McKenry all driving in runs for a 3-1 lead after the first inning on a 95° day in Denver.

Danny Espinosa doubled to start the Nationals' fifth, stole third one out later and scored on a two-out RBI single to center by Denard Span, who was 3 for 3 vs Jorge De La Rosa after the run-scoring hit that made it a 3-2 game.

The Rockies added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth with Michael McKenry taking the third walk of the day from Stephen Strasburg and scoring from second one out later on an RBI single to left by Charlie Blackmon that made it a 4-2 game in the home team's favor.

Nolan Arenado doubled in a run in the Rockies' seventh, 5-2, then took third on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error on a swinging K to make it 6-2 Colorado.

Zach Walters, Denard Span and Jayson Werth hit back-to-back-to-back two-out singles in the ninth with Werth's driving Walters in from second to make it 6-3. Anthony Rendon drove Span in with an RBI single to center, 6-4. Adam LaRoche reached on an error to load the bases for Ian Desmond, who K'd swinging to end it.

6-4 Rockies.

4. 95° and Strassy: Washington Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg's second half of the 2014 campaign began with a less-than-stellar outing against the Milwaukee Brewers last Friday night in D.C. in which he gave up seven hits, two of them home runs, a walk and four earned runs in seven innings of work in which he struck out nine Brewers' batters and threw 98 pitches overall. The command wasn't where he would have liked it to be, however, as both the 25-year-old starter and his manager noted after the game.

"When he does have fastball command and spots his fastball, then everything else works off of that." -Matt Williams on Strasburg vs the Brewers last time out

"I think for Stephen, I think it's fastball command," Williams said. "We saw it -- the home runs were fastballs that weren't thrown where he wanted to throw them. And with any club, especially a club like this that hits a lot of balls over the fence. You can get in trouble that way.

"But when he does have fastball command and spots his fastball, then everything else works off of that. So, he had really good velocity, throwing the ball hard, felt great, just the location on those two pitches [wasn't] there."

The velocity stood out even if the command wasn't necessarily sharp, and Strasburg said it's due at least in part to his elbow finally getting closer to 100% after offseason surgery to remove loose bodies.

"It feels great and everything," he told reporters after the outing, "but it takes a little bit of time to get it back. I'm not saying that it's going to be triple digits, but I think with the mechanical adjustments I've made working with [pitching coach Steve McCatty] it's seemed to help me feel more comfortable out there especially [in the] early innings where I can just let it go."

"I'm not saying that it's going to be triple digits, but I think with the mechanical adjustments I've made working with [pitching coach Steve McCatty] it's seemed to help me feel more comfortable..." -Stephen Strasburg on increased velo in recent outings

The start against the Brewers left Strasburg with a 2.96 ERA, a 2.92 FIP, four walks (1.32 BB/9) and 35 Ks (11.52 K/9) in 27 ⅓ IP so far in July in which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .228/.257/.376 line.

This afternoon, he was taking the mound on the road again.

So far this season, the Nationals' '09 no.1 overall pick has struggled away from the nation's capital, with a 4.92 ERA on the road, as opposed to his 2.62 ERA in Nationals Park and a .284/.335/.459 line away from D.C. as opposed to his .241/.280/.353 line at home.

His start in the series finale with the Rockies was his second this month against Colorado after he held the struggling NL West franchise to one run on five hits in 7 ⅔ back on July 1st.

With the win in that start, Strasburg improved to (2-2) against the Rockies in his career with a 2.36 ERA, three walks (1.01 BB/9) and 31 Ks (10.46 K/9) in 26 ⅔ IP against Colorado, over which he's held Rockies' hitters to a combined .245/.279/.378 line.

This afternoon's outing began with the temperature around 95° in Coors Field, where Strasburg gave up six hits and three earned runs in one previous start back in 2012.

1st: Charlie Blackmon tested Adam LaRoche's backhand, but the Nats' first baseman passed the test, fielding the grounder to first and tossing to the covering pitcher. Josh Rutledge fell behind 0-2 quickly, but smacked a low line drive by third on a 1-2 curve for a one-out double. Corey Dickerson stepped in with a runner in scoring position, and fell behind 0-2 as well, but doubled to right field on another curve to tie the game up at 1-1. Nolan Arenado walked to put two on in front of Rockies' rookie Ben Paulsen who lined an RBI single to center for a 2-1 lead. Drew Stubbs K'd looking at a 1-2 fastball low and away. Rockies' catcher Michael McKenry stepped in with two down and hit a weak liner over second for an RBI single and a 3-1 Rockies' lead. DJ LeMahieu's foul pop found its way into Adam LaRoche's glove for out no.3 of a 28-pitch frame.

2nd: Jorge De La Rosa lined out to Anthony Rendon at third to start the Rockies' second. Charlie Blackmon reached first safely on a liner back to the mound that bounced off Strasburg's glove and died in the grass. Josh Rutledge K'd swinging at an 0-2 fastball outside. Corey Dickerson's groundout to short ended a 14-pitch frame that left Strasburg at 42 pitches after two innings.

3rd: Nolan Arenado K'd swinging over a diving 1-2 slider to start the Rockies' third. Ben Paulsen grounded weakly to short for out no.2. Drew Stubbs K'd looking at a 96 mph full-count fastball to end a quick, 13-pitch, 1-2-3 third. 55 pitches total after three.

4th: Michael McKenry grounded out to second to start the Rockies' fourth. DJ LeMahieu singled under a diving Ian Desmond at short with one down. Jorge De La Rosa bunted Le Mahieu over/gave up an out. Charlie Blackmon stepped up with two down and runner in scoring position and grounded out to first to end a 12-pitch frame that left Strasburg at 67 pitches total after four.

5th: Josh Rutledge started the Rockies' fifth with a line drive double to left, but somehow failed to scored on a double to straight center off Corey Dickerson's bat that bounced off the center field wall 415ft from home. Nolan Arenado grounded sharply to third for out no.1, failing to bring the run in, so the Nationals walked Ben Paulsen to load the bases in front of Drew Stubbs, who went to a full count but grounded into an inning-ending  6-4-3. 20-pitch frame, 87 total after five innings.

6th: Michael McKenry walked to start the Rockies' sixth. DJ. LeMahieu K'd looking at a 97 mph 2-2 fastball outside for out no.1. Jorge De La Rosa singled on a line drive to short that bounced off Anthony Rendon, and that was it for Strasburg, who was lifted 13 pitches into the sixth at 100 overall...

Stephen Strasburg's Line: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 100 P, 63 S, 8/0 GO/FO.

3. De La Rosa Colored Glasses [ed. note - "Sorry."]: Jorge De La Rosa, 33, took the mound this afternoon in the series finale with the Washington Nationals in Coors Field coming off a relatively strong five-start stretch over which he was (4-0) with the Rockies 4-1 when he's taken the mound since he last lost a start back on June 18th in Los Angeles, CA's Dodger Stadium.

Over the course of his personal winning streak, the 11-year veteran put up a 3.48 ERA with nine walks (2.61 BB/9) and 15 Ks (4.35 BB/9) in 31 IP, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .241/.301/.378 line.

De La Rosa looked to keep the win-streak going and snap a streak of seven-straight losses by the Rockies, who dropped the first two games of their three-game set with the visiting Nationals, against whom he was (4-2) in seven career outings before today, with a 4.57 ERA, 22 walks (4.79 BB/9) and 36 Ks (7.84 K/9) in 41 ⅓  IP over which Nats' hitters put up a combined .272/.367/.377 line.

Nats' leadoff man Denard Span singled to start the game, taking an 0-1 pitch to center for a leadoff single. Span was running when Scott Hairston grounded sharply to third in the next at bat, so he beat the attempt at a double play to second and took third when Rockies' second baseman DJ LeMahieu threw one by first for an error that allowed Span to score. 1-0 Nationals. 20-pitch first for the Rockies' lefty.

Given a 3-1 lead to work with, De La Rosa responded with a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 second. 32 total.

Denard Span was 2 for 2 today after a one-out single in the top of the third, and he stole second with Scott Hairston at the plate. (SB no.17 for Span). Hairston K'd swinging for out no.2 and K no.6 for De La Rosa, however, and Anthony Rendon grounded out to short to end a 15-pitch frame. 47 overall.

Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper went down in order, LaRoche and Harper swinging, in an 11-pitch 1-2-3 4th by De La Rosa, who was up to 58 pitches.

Danny Espinosa doubled to start the top of the fifth and one out later stole third with Stephen Strasburg at the plate. Strasburg K'd swinging, but Denard Span's third hit in three at bats brought Espinosa in. 3-2 game after four and a half. 13-pitch frame for De La Rosa, 71 total after five.

Adam LaRoche singled over second with one down in the sixth, and Ian Desmond sent him around to third with a line drive to right. Bryce Harper K'd swinging for out no.2, 0 for 3, 3 Ks, and Danny Espinosa grounded into a force at second to end the threat. Still 3-2 Rockies after a 15-pitch frame by De La Rosa, who was up to 86 pitches after six innings pitched.

Jose Lobaton singled off De La Rosa and Kevin Frandsen bunted his way on to give the Nationals two runners with no outs in the top of the seventh. Denard Span bunted back to the mound and into a force at third for the first out of the frame. Pinch hitter Jayson Werth stepped in with two on and one out and K'd swinging at a 2-2 cutter for the Rockies' lefty's 11th K. Anthony Rendon fell behind 0-2 and grounded out to short to end the Nats' seventh. 17-pitch frame, 103 total for De La Rosa after seven.

Adam LaRoche grounded out to start the eighth, and that was it for De La Rosa...

Jorge De La Rosa's Line: 7.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 Ks, 110 P, 73 S, 10/1 GO/FO.

2. vs Rockies: With wins in each of the first five games with the Rockies this season, Washington improved to 28-40 against Colorado since baseball returned to the nation's capital in 2005. The Nationals also gave themselves a chance to sweep the season series from an NL opponent, something they'd never managed to do since baseball returned to D.C. The Rockies did, however, sweep the season series with the Nats twice, going 8-0 in 2006 and 6-0 in 2009. But the struggling franchise dropped to 40-60 on the year with last night's loss, which was their seventh straight loss, their 15th in the last 20 games and their 24th in the last 30 games.

They managed to avoid the sweep the series and season sweep today, however, with a 6-2 win in Coors Field.

1. The Wrap-Up: Ross Detwiler inherited a two-on, one-out jam from Stephen Strasburg in the Rockies' sixth, and gave up a single by Charlie Blackman, whose blooper to left brought Michael McKenry in from second ahead of a throw in from Scott Hairston. 4-2 Rockies. Josh Rutledge grounded into an inning-ending DP in the next AB, but the Rockies extended their lead.

Aaron Barrett took the mound for the Nationals in the top of the seventh and gave up a leadoff walk to Corey Dickerson and an RBI double to right by Nolan Arenado that gave the Rockies a 5-2 lead. Arenado took third on a wild pitch from Barrett and then scored on a swinging K by Ben Paulsen on a pitch in the dirt when Jose Lobaton misfired on the throw to first. 6-2 after seven.

Adam Ottavino took over on the mound for the Rockies with one down in the top of the eighth and retired the two batters he faced to keep it 6-2 after seven and a half.

Jerry Blevins threw a scoreless inning of work in the bottom of the eighth.

LaTroy Hawkins came on to end it, gave up back-to-back two-out singles by Zach Walters and Denard Span (4 for 5). Jayson Werth lined to right to drive Zach Walters in and make it 6-3 Rockies. Anthony Rendon singled to center to bring Span in and make it 6-4. Adam LaRoche? Groundout to shor--- error. Bases loaded for Ian Desmond? Swinging K. Ballgame.

Nationals now 55-44

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