David Zalubowksi/Associated Press
DENVER – Struggling right-hander Jeremy Guthrie finally found a way to contribute to a Colorado Rockies victory.
Pinch-running for Jason Giambi in the eighth, he scored the go-ahead run in Colorado’s 9-7 victory over Houston on Monday in the opener of the Astros’ first doubleheader since 2006.
“I haven’t helped any other way, so I guess it’s nice to do something positive,” said Guthrie, who was acquired from Baltimore over the winter to eat up innings and anchor the Rockies’ rotation but has gone just 2-3 and spent time on the disabled list after crashing his bicycle.
For once, it was Guthrie’s right foot and not his right arm that made the difference.
With the score tied at 7, Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie fielded Dexter Fowler’s two-out roller and flipped to second baseman Jose Altuve, who wasn’t expecting the throw and didn’t cover the bag. Guthrie wasn’t expecting the flip either, so he went into second standing up, and the ball hit his right foot and bounced into no-man’s land in center field.
“Not running the bases a whole bunch, I wasn’t sure what that meant when it went off my foot,” Guthrie said. “Little League rules, you’re out.”
Quickly realizing the situation, Guthrie raced to third, and Fowler scooted into second.
Lowrie had told Altuve he’d throw to first on anything hit to the left side, “but I thought I heard him calling for it,” Lowrie said. “I didn’t think I had a chance at first with Fowler running, anyway. I thought we had a better chance with Guthrie at second.”
Fowler was credited with a single, and Lowrie got an error, setting the stage for Jordan Pacheco, who blooped a single to center off Fernando Rodriguez (1-5), scoring both runners.
“I got lucky enough, got just enough of it,” said Pacheco, who correctly guessed curveball on a 1-1 pitch.
Matt Belisle (2-2) earned the win with a scoreless inning of relief, and Rafael Betancourt pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 10 tries as the Rockies won for just the seventh time in 25 games this month.
This was the Rockies’ second doubleheader of the season. They split with Pittsburgh on April 25.
Astros ace Wandy Rodriguez was hit hard, allowing seven runs, four of them earned, and 10 hits in five innings. He gave up six extra-base hits, including four in the first inning, and left trailing 7-6.
Jordan Schafer took him off the hook in the seventh when he beat out an infield single off Adam Ottavino, stole second on a bang-bang play that drew Rockies manager Jim Tracy onto the field to discuss the safe call with second-base umpire Marty Foster, and then raced home on Altuve’s single to tie it at 7.
Ottavino replaced Juan Nicasio, who gave up five earned runs and nine hits over six innings.
Troy Tulowitzki, who awkwardly twisted his left wrist while diving for Lowrie’s single up the middle in the fifth, led off the bottom half of the inning with his eighth home run, giving the Rockies a 7-6 lead in the back-and-forth game.
The Astros had erased a 6-4 deficit in the fifth when Chris Johnson singled home a run and Carlos Lee scored all the way from first when right fielder Michael Cuddyer’s throw to third landed in the crowd.
Schafer led off the game with a triple and scored on Altuve’s groundout, and Lowrie followed with his eighth homer, but the Rockies scored five times in the bottom of the first.
Fowler reached on third baseman Johnson’s fielding error, and Pacheco tripled him home, then scored on a wild pitch. Carlos Gonzalez and Tulowitzki added back-to-back doubles before rookie Wilin Rosario’s two-run homer made it 5-2.