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DENVER – On paper, the pitching matchup on Coors Field for Tuesday night was nothing short of inspirational.
Chad Bettis facing off against Jameson Taillon in a battle of testicular cancer survivors had emotions running high before even a single pitch was thrown.
No matter how you look at it, this faceoff was a testament to the enduring nature of the human spirit.
Unfortunately for those looking for a tight contest that showcased how each could return to elite form after such an ordeal, Bettis simply did not have it in his first game back after missing a month with a finger blister.
In order to combat the possibility of a recurrence of that injury, Bettis changed the grip on his fastball. Whether it was that or just a matter of rusty mechanics, he could not find consistency of any kind on the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates who responded to getting shut out in the first game of the series with an emphatic 10-2 win.
Taillon, on the other hand, was superb, pitching a complete game with just one blemished inning.
Bettis threw only 10 pitches in the top of the first but one of them was hammered by Starling Marte deep over the high wall in right-center field for a solo home run that gave the Pirates an early advantage.
The Rockies missed a chance to answer in the bottom of the second after a leadoff double from Nolan Arenado. Trevor Story hit a hard liner but it was right at Corey Dickerson in left. David Dahl ground out to shortstop and Ryan McMahon again hit a hard line drive but Marte was positioned perfectly to run it down and prevent the Rockies from getting on the board.
Bettis found a huge heap of trouble in the fourth beginning with a walk of Gregory Polanco and a David Freese single to left. He got Colin Moran to ground out to second, but the ball was not hit hard enough for DJ LeMahieu to attempt the double play. After walking Francisco Cervelli to load the bases, but making the force out an option at each base, Josh Harrison hit a flyball to deep enough left for a sac fly.
With Bettis one pitch away from escaping any further damage, Jordy Mercer jumped all over a first-pitch fastball and crushed it over the wall in center for a three-run shot, suddenly putting the Pirates up 5-0.
The visitors really poured it on in the fifth. It began in odd fashion when Corey Dickerson hit a chopper over Bettis on the mound that LeMahieu attempted to barehand but it skipped by him, allowing Dickerson to reach second. Marte followed with a sharp single to center and Polanco added one to right, scoring Dickerson and moving Marte to third.
Freese then hit a line drive to right that Carlos Gonzalez made a stupendous diving catch on, though the Pirates were able to easily score on another sac fly. After striking out Moran, Francisco Cervelli turned on an inside pitch and looped it just over Arenado’s head at third, scoring another run and getting all the way to third.
At that, Bud Black had seen enough and turned to Jake McGee, hoping his lefty reliever could iron out some things for the future. That didn’t go quite as planned when Josh Harrison unloaded on a fastball low and away to power it out of the park and the route was on at 10-0, Pirates.
Colorado finally got some runs in the sixth thanks to back-to-back-singles from Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu, Blackmon’s being the 1,000th hit of his career. Both came in on a double into the right-center field gap off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez.
Blackmon is the seventh player in Rockies history with at least 1,000 base hits.
Yency Almonte pitched the final two innings for the Rockies without allowing a baserunner, striking out four.
Colorado falls to 60-53 and are 2.5 games out of first place in the NL West.
Chad Bettis: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 9 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Jake McGee: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Bryan Shaw: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Yency Almonte: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Carlos Gonzalez: 1-for-3, 2 RBI
Charlie Blackmon: 1-for-3, 1 R
DJ LeMahieu: 1-for-3, 1 R
The Rockies will try to win the series on Wednesday afternoon. The recently acquired Chris Archer (from Tampa Bay) will face off against German Marquez. First pitch at 1:10 Mountain Time.