DENVER (AP) -- Pitching on the 10th anniversary of Coors Field's
first game, Josh Beckett got caught up in the history of the hitter-friendly ballpark.
Once he realized what was happening, the Colorado Rockies never
stood a chance.
Beckett overcame a shaky start to tie the NL lead with his fourth win and added a two-run double in Florida's five-run seventh inning, lifting the Marlins to a 9-3 victory over the Rockies on Tuesday night.
Veering away from his usual thinking, Beckett threw fastballs almost exclusively early on because he was worried about the effects the Mile High air might have on his breaking pitches. But after giving up five hits in the first two innings, Beckett went back to his original plan -- fastballs to set up breaking balls -- and shut down the Rockies.
"You can come in here and let the whole Coors Field thing get to you. That is what was happening in the first couple of innings," said Beckett, 3-0 with a 3.79 ERA in three starts at Colorado. "I was throwing pretty much all fastballs and they are a fastball-hitting team, so they were squaring balls up. So I tried to throw more offspeed pitches."
Colorado won the Coors original 11-9 on Dante Bichette's three-run homer in the 14th inning, setting off a decade's worth of wild games.
It looked like another was on the way after Beckett (4-1) gave up three runs -- two earned -- in the first two innings and Juan Pierre hit his first homer at Coors Field in 729 at-bats. But then things settled down for the Marlins -- thanks to Beckett.
The right-hander kept the Rockies off-balance with his full complement of pitches, allowing eight hits in six innings to match teammate Dontrelle Willis and Philadelphia's Jon Lieber for the NL lead in wins.
"I was very pleased with the way he stayed within himself and didn't get flustered," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "He battled himself out of a couple of other jams. After that it was clear sailing with him."
He had some help.
Pierre played three seasons at Coors Field without a homer. After ending that long streak, he kept hitting, adding an RBI triple in the seventh inning to finish a double short of the cycle. Alex Gonzalez also homered for Florida, which had 15 hits for its seventh win in nine games.
It just took the Marlins a little while to get things going against Rockies starter Jamey Wright (1-2).
The right-hander was effective at keeping the ball down, getting 12 of 14 outs on groundballs and holding Florida to one hit in the first three innings. But once the Marlins started hitting, they didn't stop.
Wright allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 innings, with seven of the 10 hits off him going for extra bases. At least he helped himself with a run-scoring single in the second inning for his first RBI since Aug. 15, 2001, against Philadelphia.
Too bad no one else did much for the Rockies.
Playing under bench coach Jamie Quirk after manager Clint Hurdle went home with flu-like symptoms, Colorado had just four hits after the second inning to lose for the third time in five games.
"I felt good getting three runs off early from Beckett and we were excited because I expected a low-scoring game," Quirk said. "But he settled in and shut the door down. We had to keep going and he didn't allow it."
Beckett sure looked like he was headed for a bad outing. He allowed two earned runs in the first inning -- one less than his previous 28 innings -- on Preston Wilson's RBI double and Matt Holliday's major league-leading fourth triple.
Wright added to it in the second inning with his third hit of the season, chopping a run-scoring single through the left side that made it 3-0.
But Beckett smoothed things out after that.
His fastball topping out in the mid-90s, Beckett allowed three hits over the next four innings and stranded runners at second and third in the fifth.
"That was the thing you have to like about him, he gave up the three runs early and then settled in," McKeon said.
Wright got off to a better start than Beckett, though it didn't last.
The right-hander retired eight straight hitters before Pierre led off the fourth inning with a homer to right. Juan Encarnacion made it 3-2 with a run-scoring single.
Gonzalez tied it in the fifth inning with a solo homer to left and Miguel Cabrera's RBI double in the sixth put Florida up 4-3.
Then Florida broke it open.
Beckett chased Wright with a two-run double in the seventh, Pierre and Luis Castillo hit consecutive RBI triples off Scott Dohmann and Carlos Delgado made it 9-3 with a run-scoring single off Brian Fuentes.
"I'm still trying to figure out how I gave up seven runs," said Wright, who picked off Pierre at first in the first inning to tie Armando Reynoso's club record of 28. "A lot of my pitches were right where I wanted. Maybe it was the wrong game plan."
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