With their 10-1 win Thursday over the Pirates, the Rockies pulled within five games of the idle Dodgers, the closest they have been to first place in the NL West since they were five games behind after the games of April 29, when their record was 8-12.
The Rockies completed a 5-2 homestand against the Cubs (3-1) and Pirates (2-1), reaching double figures in three of the games and outscoring the opponents 54-26. This was Colorado's fourth consecutive winning homestand since June 12-21. The team now goes out on the road for six games to Florida and Washington.
With a 32-28 road record, the Rockies have one more victory on the road than they had in the entire 2008 season and have a chance to have the first winning road record in franchise history; their 39-42 road record in 2007 ranks as the team's modest high-water mark away from Denver.
On Saturday at Florida, Aaron Cook will return to the rotation. He was scheduled to start Tuesday, an outing that was pushed back four days to let the inflammation in the joint of his right big toe calm down. Cook passed a test Thursday during a bullpen session when he was able to throw all of his pitches. The only problem Cook had Thursday occurred because the tape on his toe was too tight, not because of lingering soreness.
Cook said he felt fine was ready to start Saturday. He will wear a cleat with a metal shank and will have a rubber donut around his toe.
Trainer Keith Dugger, who said he was pleased Cook had a good bullpen session, said the toe won't be taped as tight.
Cook is 10-4 with a 3.93 ERA. His seven-game winning streak, which extended over 11 starts, ended in his last start Aug. 6 at Philadelphia. In that start, Cook, who had been pitching with a jammed right big toe, aggravated it while reaching to catch an errant throw as he backed up third base.
ROCKIES 10, PIRATES 1: Jason Marquis earned his 13th win, tying for the NL lead. Troy Tulowitzki hit a homer in the first inning, when the Rockies scored two runs. Clint Barmes had three hits, including a two-run homer in the seventh, when the Rockies scored three runs to take a 7-1 lead and break the game open. Colorado pounded Pittsburgh for the second consecutive game, taking two of three games in the series.
NOTES, QUOTESColorado pitchers gave up three hits to the Pirates on Thursday, the 10th time this year the Rockies have held opponents to four or fewer hits in a game and the second time they have done it in two games. The Pirates were limited to four hits Wednesday.With seven shutout wins, the Rockies are one shy of the franchise record. They had eight shutouts in 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2008.RHP Adam Eaton made his Rockies debut in the ninth inning Thursday and retired the side in order on 13 pitches, including 11 strikes.RHP Ubaldo Jimenez won his third consecutive start and fourth straight decision Wednesday, improving his record to 10-9 and lowering his ERA to 3.47. Jimenez is 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA this month with nine walks, 20 strikeouts and 12 hits allowed in 22 2/3 innings.Tuesday's start by RHP Jhoulys Chacin marked the first time the Rockies used a starter other than RHP Aaron Cook, LHP Jorge De La Rosa, RHP Jason Hammel, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez or RHP Jason Marquis since LHP Franklin Morales started April 21. From April 22 through Aug. 10, the Colorado rotation combined to go 45-30 with a 3.90 ERA in 99 games. The Rockies have used seven starters, which is tied with the Braves for the fewest amount of starters used by a NL club. In the AL, the Rays have used just six starters.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Hitting streaks of at least 14 games for 1B Todd Helton. In addition to his 16-game streak through Tuesday, Helton hit safely in a career-best 17 consecutive games in 2003 and had 14-game streaks in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There is no way I want to end my career being taken off the field on a cart. Any retirement thoughts were put on hold, because when the game gets taken away, you appreciate it even more." -- LHP Alan Embree, 39, who is recovering from a broken right leg, suffered when he was struck with a line drive July 10.
ROSTER REPORTSS Troy Tulowitzki hit his 23rd homer Thursday, leaving him one shy of the career-high 24 he hit in 2007. Tulowitzki has homered in three of his past four games.CF Dexter Fowler returned to the lineup for the first time since leaving Monday night's game in the ninth inning with a left knee contusion, sustained when crashed into the center field wall at Coors Field making a catch. Fowler went 4-for-5 with three runs Thursday, setting career high with four hits. Three doubles gave Fowler 27 for the season, extending his major league lead among rookies in that category. Fowler raised his average to .271, the highest it has been since he was hitting .272 on May 25.2B Clint Barmes, who broke a 4-for-57 slide by going 3-for-4 Wednesday, went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs Thursday, giving him consecutive multi-hit games for the first time since July 6-7.OF Carlos Gonzalez had two RBIs for the second consecutive game after not having a multi-RBI game previously this season.1B Todd Helton went 0-for-4, leaving him hitless in seven at-bats since his 16-game hitting streak ended Wednesday.RF Brad Hawpe has not hit a home run since July 19 at San Diego, a homerless stretch that spans 76 at-bats and 22 games. The left-handed hitter was rested against LHP Paul Maholm, against whom Hawpe is 1-for-12 with nine strikeouts. This was just the second time since the All-Star break that Hawpe wasn't in the lineup. He didn't play the first day following the break after participating in the All-Star Game, and he made a pinch-hitting appearance Aug. 6.RHP Rafael Betancourt has nine consecutive scoreless appearances covering 7 1/3 innings since being acquired by the Rockies on July 23. He has allowed two hits in 22 at-bats (.091) with two walks and six strikeouts.C Yorvit Torrealba has recorded 18 of his 25 hits this season in multi-hit games. He has more multi-hit games (nine) than one-hit games (seven) in 2009.RHP Jason Marquis broke a two-game losing streak, posted his 13th win of the season on his fourth attempt and won for the first time since July 19. Marquis tied RHP Adam Wainwright and LHP Johan Santana for the NL lead in victories. The Rockies are 15-8 in games started by Marquis, who is 13-8 with a 3.55 ERA.