All-Star Gio Gonzalez held the Colorado Rockies to one run over 6 innings and the Colorado defense fell apart in the sixth and seventh innings as the Washington Nationals defeated the Rockies 4-1 on a stifling hot afternoon in the nation’s capital. Jeff Francis delivered another quality start for Colorado, allowing 3 runs in his five+ innings of work, taking the loss as Danny Espinosa doubled and Bryce Harper singled against the left-hander opening the sixth, Espinosa scoring on a single off Josh Roenicke by Ryan Zimmerman, with Harper coming home on yet another error by Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario. Zimmerman scored Washington’s fourth and final run after moving to third on a walk to Adam LaRoche and a force-out by Ian Desmond, coming home when Roenicke hit Desmond with a pick-off attempt at first base, the carom eluding over-paid Colorado first-baseman Michael Cuddyer.
The Rockies’ only run scored in the fourth, when the over-paid Cuddyer doubled leading off, moved to third on a ground-out by Tyler Colvin, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Jordan Pacheco. Cuddyer’s run cost Colorado 1.5 times the amount a similar run scored by Minnesota’s Josh Willingham would cost the Twins.
The Rockies’ defense continued to struggle in the seventh, when Nats’ catcher Jesus Flores reached leading-off on a boot by Colorado third-baseman Chris Nelson. Pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi, attempting to sacrifice, reached on an error by Cuddyer. Rockies’ reliever Matt Reynolds held things together, striking-out Espinosa and getting Harper to ground into a double-play.
Ryan Mattheus handled the seventh for Washington, striking-out the side. Sean Burnett allowed a Dexter Fowler lead-off single in the eighth. Fowler went 3 for 4 for the Rockies. Tyler Clippard took-over in the ninth and recorded his 14th save in 14 chances, but not before Colorado put runners at first and second with one out. Clippard then struck-out pinch-hitter Jason Giambi and Nelson to close things-out.
The two teams will play a rubber match tomorrow morning, starting at 11:35 Mountain Time. The Rockies’ Jeremy Guthrie (3-8, 6.28) will face the Nats’ Jordan Zimmerman (5-6, 2.70) in a battle of right-handers. Temperatures are not expected to reach 100 degrees for the only time in the series, topping out at 99. Root Sports will have the telecast with radio on 850 am KOA.