The Colorado Rockies showed signs of offensive life and of succeeding at Coors Field, where they begin a series Monday with the San Francisco Giants.
An 8-2 victory on Sunday over the Cincinnati Reds enabled the Rockies to win a series for just the second time this season at Coors Field, where they have a 9-12 record and have gone 2-4-1 in home series. The Rockies' other series win at Coors Field was April 23-25 when they took two of three from the San Diego Padres.
The Rockies hit four home runs Sunday for the second time in a game this season, a feat they also accomplished May 2 at the Chicago Cubs. With 14 hits Sunday and 11 Saturday, the Rockies reached double digits in hits in consecutive games for the first time at home this season and the second time overall.
"It can propel us," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "We'll see next series here against the Giants. But there were signs this series that we're swinging the bats better."
Carlos Gonzalez, whose playing time has dwindled, on Sunday went 4-for-4, hitting a two-run homer in the first inning with adding singles in each of his next three at-bats. The home run, Gonzalez's fifth of the season and his 1,300th career hit, was a mammoth 461-foot blast into the third deck in right-center field on a 2-0 fastball by Reds starter Matt Harveyl.
"It looked like he was on time with his swing," Black said. "He got that first fastball from Harvey on the inside part of the plate and drove it in the upper deck. That doesn't happen by accident. That happens because you're on time and you have a good swing."
Gonzalez is hitting .241 with a .700 OPS and 18 RBIs. His start Sunday was his first in four games and just his 11th in 23 games this month. The left-handed-hitting Gonzalez will likely get a second consecutive start Monday when the Giants use a left-hander. Black typically starts a player the day after he homers, and the Giants are starting rookie Andrew Suarez, who is 1-4 with a 5.68 ERA.
The Giants are 1-5 this season in his six starts, and Suarez is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his past three starts. On Tuesday at Houston, Suarez gave up seven hits and five runs in four innings in what became an 11-2 romp by the Astros.
Chad Bettis, who is 4-1 with a 3.30 ERA, will start for the Rockies. Last Tuesday in Los Angeles, Bettis received his third straight no-decision when he gave up three hits and two runs in five innings of a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers.
Bettis is 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 games (eight starts) against the Giants, including a no-decision May 17 at San Francisco, where he allowed five hits and three runs in six innings in Colorado's 5-3 win. Bettis is seeking his first win this season at Coors Field, where he is 0-0 with a 6.89 ERA in three starts and 14-8 with a 5.37 ERA in 54 games (36 starts).
Losers of five of their past eight games, the Rockies (28-25) nonetheless have a season-high lead of 1 1/2 games in the National League West. The Giants (25-28) are three games behind in third place.
After losing the rubber game of a series Sunday against the Cubs in Chicago, the Giants are 1-4 on an eight-game road trip that began in Houston and ends at Coors Field, where the Giants are making their first visit this season after going 1-9 there last year.
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford has hit just .246 with a .683 OPS in 56 games at Coors Field but is in a torrid stretch. He has hit safely in 21 of 24 games this month, batting .437 (38-for-87) with four homers and 20 RBIs. Holding his hands slightly higher has enabled Crawford to drive the ball better to all fields.
"I'm using my hands a lot better, and it allows me to spray the ball where it's pitched," Crawford told reporters. "A month ago, I had no chance on that fastball up and away. At best, I foul it off or pop it up."