Bryce Harper drove Rafael Betancourt’s third pitch on a line off the back wall of the Colorado Rockies’ bullpen, pulling the Washington Nationals into a 10-10 tie with Colorado and cuing Rockies bullpen coach Jim Wright to get Adam Ottavino up and ready to face the Nats in the 10th inning. After Betancourt retired Washington without further incident and Colorado failed to win the game in regulation, Ottavino came on and surrendered a lead-off double to Ian Desmond to open the 10th, then proceeded to retire the next six hitters he faced. Rockies second baseman Marco Scutaro delivered a two-out walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th, scoring shortstop Jonathan Herrera, who had doubled with one out and moved to third on a Dexter Fowler fly ball, and giving Colorado an 11-10 victory and a split of the four game series with the National League East leading Nationals.
The Rockies teed-off against Washington starter Edwin Jackson, who did his best imitation of a Rockies starter, allowing 8 runs in three innings and raising his ERA at Coors Field to 17.40. Fowler singled leading off the game, moved to third on Scutaro’s single and scored on a third consecutive hit by Carlos Gonzalez. After Todd Helton walked, Chris Nelson, hitting fifth for the first time in 2012, singled off the glove of Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, driving in Scutaro. Zimmerman knocked Nelson’s ground-ball down, recovered, then hesitated over whether to race Gonzalez to third for the force-out. He instead faked a throw to first allowing Gonzalez to arrive safely. But Cargo, in homage to the just-plated Scutaro, rounded the bag by several feet with his back to Zimmerman, who dashed to the bag and tagged-out the Colorado left-fielder for the inning’s first out. Three pitches later Tyler Colvin, 4 for 6 with 5 RBI, blasted a rocket over the center-field wall, missing a Grand Slam because of the miscue. An observer behind the third-base camera-well remarked to his neighbor, “Watch us lose by one.”
Such considerations seemed a bit rash as the Rockies added 2 runs in the second to move ahead 7-0. Colorado starter Josh Outman had retired the first six Nationals batters in order, and things were looking exceptionally positive for the hapless Rockies, but Outman proceeded to walk Tyler Moore leading-off the third, then after one-out singles by Jackson and second-baseman Danny Espinoza, Zimmerman drove-in Moore and Jackson with a ground single to center-field, then scored along with Espinosa on a Michael Morse home run as Washington moved to within 7-5.
Outman was relieved by Josh Roenicke in the fourth, and the Rockies got two back in the bottom of the inning, then Roenicke responded to the news he is a starter in BIB Dan O’Dowd’s recently clarified seven-man rotation by giving-up 4 (1 earned) in the fifth as the Nationals tied the score. Colorado moved ahead in the bottom of the inning as Roenicke, hit by a pitch leading-off, scored on a double-play grounder by Gonzalez, and Roenicke, Rex Brothers, and Matt Belisle held Washington in-check until Harper took Betancourt deep in the ninth.
It was an entertaining afternoon at the old ballpark, with plenty of humidor-defying offense to keep the paid crowd of 33,957 alternatively horrified and amused. In addition to Colvin’s performance Gonzalez was 3 for 5, Fowler, Scutaro and Nelson were 3 for 6, and Herrera went 2 for 5. Espinoza, Harper, Morse and Desmond each had two hits for the Nationals. Cloud-cover moved into the stadium an hour or so prior to the first pitch, knocking-down the 90 degree heat, and cooling sprinkles of rain refreshed the spectators throughout the afternoon.
Washington heads back east to Atlanta to face the Braves, who trail the Nationals by 3 games in the standings. The Rockies welcome their West Division rival San Diego Padres, who by some cruel fate continue to trail 4th place Colorado by 2 1/2 games. Jeff Francis (0-1, 7.23) will face former teammate Jason Marquis (3-7, 5.67) in a lefty-righty match-up. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 MDT.