Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH – His strength has returned. So has his swing.
Carlos Gonzalez finally is feeling like himself again.
Gonzalez homered for the first two times this season, but the Colorado bullpen blew two leads, and the Rockies lost 5-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates on a chilly Tuesday night.
Gonzalez entered the season with 60 homers over the previous two years but had none in 50 at-bats this month before his shot to left with Dexter Fowler aboard in the first. His homer to center in the eighth off Tony Watson (1-0) with Marco Scutaro on gave Colorado the lead back before Pittsburgh scored twice in the bottom of the inning to win it.
Gonzalez had missed three games last week because of strep throat.
“It felt good to hit a couple of balls hard again because it’s been a tough couple of weeks,” Gonzalez said. “I missed three games, and that messed with my timing, and I had a bad fever for four days, and that took away a lot of my strength. I just feel like I’m finally back to normal.”
It was Gonzalez’s fifth career multihomer game and first since June 27 of last season at Wrigley Field. Gonzalez had three of the Rockies’ six hits.
“(Trainer Keith Dugger) came into the office (Tuesday) and said Carlos was really over the hump from the strep throat,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “You could tell from batting practice that his energy level was up there where it normally is. The two home runs he hit (Tuesday night) with the cold air – they are absolutely hit, both of them.”
Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen had three RBIs, and Casey McGehee drove in the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning single – the final of four runs off the Colorado bullpen.
Seven days after becoming the oldest pitcher to win a game in major-league history, 49-year-old Rockies starter Jamie Moyer was in line for another victory after allowing one run over six innings.
The ageless Moyer allowed a home run to a skinny rookie named Barry Bonds on Aug. 11, 1986, in his first career start against Pittsburgh.
McCutchen, who was born 60 days later, drove in Alex Presley with a groundout in the first Tuesday.
Moyer didn’t throw a pitch that registered over 79 mph all game, but that was the only run he would allow. He gave up six hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Two of those strikeouts came against opposing starter Kevin Correia with runners in scoring position and two outs.
“I didn’t feel like I had real good fastball command early in the game,” Moyer said. “After the second inning, I was able to find it. I walked a few too many guys, but I was able to eventually get the ball around the plate.”
Pittsburgh’s two seventh-inning runs off lefty Rex Brothers turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead.
Matt Belisle (1-1) came on in the eighth but gave up a leadoff homer to former Rockies player Clint Barmes. Later that inning, McGehee’s two-out single to right scored pinch-runner Nate McLouth.
“I put this one on my shoulder, and it has a disgusting taste,” Belisle said. “Falling behind hitters, not taking outs that are given to you, walks. ... No excuses. I just take full responsibility for this loss.”
Before Tuesday, the Pirates had scored only 30 runs in 15 games – by far the fewest in the majors.
“That’s the best guys we have in front of (closer) Rafael Betancourt, and (the Pirates) beat them,” Tracy said of his bullpen. “It’s disappointing to lose, but you’ve got to give them credit, too, because they battled back. Our guys did what they’ve done had all year by battling back, but the Pirates fought back, too. They just got the better of us.”