Rookie arms shine in loss to Rockies
Arizona's Petit duels with Colorado's Jimenez on final day
DENVER -- The game may not have had playoff implications for the D-backs, but the packed house at Coors Field hung on every pitch as a pair of rookie hurlers put up a gaggle of goose eggs through 5 1/2 innings in Sunday's season finale.Yusmeiro Petit, making his first start in over a month, held the Rockies scoreless through five innings of four-hit ball, putting a choke-hold on the Rockies' hopes of securing a tie for the Wild Card with San Diego and cementing his status as a secret weapon for the D-backs. But with the game tied in the bottom of the eighth, the Rockies erupted for three runs on a pair of back-to-back bases-loaded hits from Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe before the D-backs could secure their first out. The Rockies held off a two-run D-backs rally in the ninth to win, 4-3. "Petit was outstanding," said Arizona manager Bob Melvin. "He hasn't thrown more than 40 pitches in quite some time." Petit had four pitches working for him -- his fastball, a changeup, a slider that he went to often and a curve he dropped on hitters to get ahead in the count. Though he's on the bubble as far as the playoff roster, his strong spot start certainly helped his case. "I missed a couple pitches, but I felt good," Petit said. "It's been a long time since I've thrown that many pitches. I had good location and controlled my pitches. I threw good." The Rockies' rookie starter Ubaldo Jimenez matched Petit's performance on the hill, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Alberto Callaspo knocked a one-out single through the hole into left field. Though the home crowd grew ecstatic with each Rockies fly to the outfield and leapt to its feet for each of Jimenez's career-best 10 strikeouts, much of the cheering came early as the Brewers got on the out-of-town scoreboard, tying, then overtaking the Padres to give the Rockies an open door to a one-game tiebreaker with San Diego. The Rockies got to reliever Doug Slaten in the sixth, as Atkins drew a two-out walk and Hawpe doubled him home to take the lead. But the lead was short-lived, with the D-backs finally getting to Jimenez in the seventh. After a deep fly ball to center to open the inning, Jeff Salazar and Miguel Montero coaxed a pair of walks out of Jimenez, and Rockies manager Clint Hurdle went to his bullpen. Former D-backs reliever Jorge Julio gave up a run-scoring single to left to Carlos Quentin to tie the game, and Hurdle called on former closer and three-time All-Star Brian Fuentes, who struck out pinch-hitters Conor Jackson and Jeff Cirillo to escape the threat. The D-backs put pressure on again in the eighth, earning a pair of two-out walks before Fuentes stuck out Salazar to end the inning.
National League Division Series schedule
|Wed., Oct. 3||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Sat. Oct. 6||6 p.m.||Wrigley Field||TBS|
|*Sun. Oct. 7||1 p.m.||Wrigley Field||TNT|
|*Tue. Oct. 9||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Wed., Oct. 3||3 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||3 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|Sat. Oct. 6||9:30 p.m.||Coors Field||TBS|
|*Sun. Oct. 7||10 p.m.||Coors Field||TBS|
|*Tue. Oct. 9||6:30 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|* If necessary. All times ET.|
The Rockies' three-run eighth began with a throwing error by third baseman Mark Reynolds after he fielded a grounder from Rookie of the Year candidate Troy Tulowitzki. MVP candidate Matt Holliday singled off the glove of first baseman Robby Hammock, and Todd Helton walked to load the bases. The Rockies took the lead on a bases-loaded single by Atkins and got a bit of breathing room on a bases-loaded double down the left-field line from Hawpe."We had several guys we weren't going to use, and that's just the way it was," Melvin said of the conspicuous absences of late-inning relievers Jose Valverde, Brandon Lyon and Brandon Medders. "Obviously, if we have a full complement in our bullpen, it's probably a little different at the end, but we were a little bit limited and we just had to deal with it." The D-backs fought back in the ninth, with pinch-hitter Augie Ojeda plating a run on a sacrifice fly and Callaspo flaring an RBI single just out of reach of a leaping Kazuo Matsui at second, making it 4-3. Colorado closer Manny Corpas got the final out on Stephen Drew's dribbler toward third. "When the ball was hit, I didn't think he had a chance to make the play," Melvin said of Corpas' glove work and off-balance sidearm throw to first. Ultimately, the series in Colorado worked out ideally for the D-backs, who clinched a playoff spot with Brandon Webb's win on Friday and could take a respite from the relentless pennant race pressure on the final two days of the season. The loss set up a Rockies-Padres Wild Card tie-breaker on Monday. "It was good to be able to come in and get that first win with Webby," Melvin said. "Whether it's close games, whether it's games where they're swinging the bat real well, the Rockies seem to find a way to win games. The streak that they put together is really impressive. You have to tip your cap to them." With Colorado in the rearview mirror, the D-backs can look ahead to starting the playoffs at home on Wednesday against the Cubs. Melvin has a couple days to finalize his playoff roster, and despite Justin Upton suffering a contusion to his left wrist when Jimenez hit him in the first inning, Melvin is optimistic that his right fielder will be ready come Wednesday. "It just got me on the top of the wrist," Upton said. "He was throwing pretty hard, so when I went out in the field and put my glove on and I had a little weight on it, it stiffened up a little. I've been hit plenty of times. We'll just play it by ear." The D-backs expect a full house at Chase Field as they play their first postseason games in five years, and with Chicago in the visiting dugout, the place should be rocking. "Any time you play the Cubs, it's going to be a traveling circus," Melvin said. "A lot of excitement and a lot of Cubs fans. It should be a very exciting series."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.