Rockies fall late to lose 4th in a row
It looked like the long ball and strong pitching through the middle and late innings might be enough to snap Grand Junction’s three-game losing streak.
But Missoula’s three runs in the bottom of the eighth kept the Rockies on their slide as the Osprey turned back Grand Junction 6-3 on Wednesday night in Missoula, Mont.
The Osprey used a leadoff walk and a single to set the stage for Socrates Brito, who one pitch after fouling off a squeeze bunt, lined the ball over the head of Rockies center fielder David Dahl for a triple and a 5-3 lead. Brito crossed home plate a moment later on a balk for the final run.
“We were really unable to do the little things right,” Rockies manager Tony Diaz said. “We had a couple balks, leadoff walks ...”
Grand Junction did a few things right, too.
Julian Yan led off the second inning with a home run, which Missoula answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame.
In the fifth, Correlle Prime’s fly ball to center field was dropped by Brito after a long run to get to it, and it turned into a three-base error, setting the stage for Matt Wessinger to single him home after Chris Cowell walked.
Wessinger struck again in the top of the eighth, drilling a leadoff home run to tie the game.
“Wessinger had a nice game, very nice game,” Diaz said.
Similar praise applied to relief pitchers Patrick Johnson and Rayan Gonzalez.
Johnson entered in the fifth inning, replacing starter Johendi Jiminian, who was touched for three runs on five hits and a walk. Johnson, however, was untouchable, retiring all six batters he faced in two innings of work. He struck out the final two hitters he faced.
Gonzalez worked the seventh and walked the leadoff batter, but after a flyout, he induced a double-play ball to end the inning, the fourth in a row that the Rockies kept the Osprey off the scoreboard.
The bottom of the eighth, though, was unkind to reliever Raul Fernandez, who took the loss. Fernandez walked Pedro Ruiz, then allowed a single by Evan Marzilli, putting runners on first and second. He recovered to get the next two batters out with a strikeout and a fielder’s choice that put runners at first and third. But that brought up Brito, who delivered the deciding blow.
The Rockies went down in order in the top of the ninth, all via strikeout against Justin Thompson, who earned his third save of the season.
“We’ve got to get ready for the next game. This one is history,” he said. “Let’s not lose five in a row.”