|Rockies hope to ride strong pitching to sweep of D-backs|
PHOENIX -- The Colorado Rockies used another strong pitching performance to stay on track Saturday.
Right-hander Antonio Senzatela gave up three hits in seven innings in a 5-1 victory over Arizona, following German Marquez's dominant outing Friday as the Rockies took the first two games of a three-game series.
The Rockies trail the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West and the St. Louis Cardinals for the final wild-card spot. Each deficit is 1 1/2 games. The Diamondbacks, who led the division Sept. 1, is one loss away from elimination.
"We need to get it done, no matter how we get it," said Colorado catcher Chris Iannetta, whose two-out, two-run single triggered a decisive four-run third inning.
"We just need to get wins. We don't have many games left. We need some help from teams in front of us to lose some games, and we have to win a bunch. It's going to be difficult, but we'll just try to win one each day and see what happens."
Colorado left-hander Kyle Freeland (15-7, 2.95) is to face Arizona righty Zack Godley (14-10, 4.79) in Sunday's series finale. Freeland has made nine consecutive quality starts.
If home field means anything, Colorado might have a bit of an edge as it looks to make up the necessary ground in the final week of the season.
The Rockies, who have played one fewer game than the Dodgers, will play their final seven games at Coors Field against NL East teams Philadelphia and Washington. Both have been eliminated from the playoffs.
The Rockies set a franchise record with 43 road wins after taking the first two games of the Arizona series Saturday and also are 41-33 at home.
The Dodgers will play their final game this season against San Diego on Sunday. They have road series remaining against Arizona and the Padres. St. Louis has a three-game home series against contending Milwaukee beginning Monday before closing the season with a three-game set against the NL Central-leading Cubs at Wrigley Field.
"I think most teams feel comfortable and confident at home," Colorado manager Bud Black said. "I think we do. We're much better at home the second half of the season. We play the schedule."
Arizona has lost 11 of 14 with the troubles coming because of a sluggish offense compounded by a suddenly leaky bullpen.
"I go back to Jim Carrey 'you're saying there a chance'," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "I've going to live until I can take no more breaths, and I feel like the whole clubhouse will do the same."
Freeland, a native of Denver who was the Rockies' first round pick in the 2014 draft, has developed into a star in his second season in the rotation, and with right-hander Marquez appears to give the Rockies a dominant 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation for years to come. Freeland is 25. Marquez 23.
Freeland is fifth in the NL in ERA and victories and fourth in WAR, and has only gotten sharper as the season has moved along. He is 9-1 with a 2.43 ERA in his last 18 starts, and has given up more than three runs only once in that stretch. The Rockies have won 14 of his 18 starts during that span.
"He's doing what successful pitchers do," Black said. "He's throwing a lot of strikes in good spots within his repertoire, and his repertoire is solid major league stuff across the board. He pitches with a great deal of aggressiveness and confidence. He's been able to make a pitch when he needs to, to get out of an inning and get out of a jam."
The Rockies have won three of Freeland's previous four starts against the Diamondbacks, although he is 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA against them this season and 2-2 against them in his career. He gave up four runs in five innings in his only start at Chase Field.
"Changing speeds very well, much better than he did a year ago," Black said. "The consistency of his slider is much improved from last year. Fastball command much improved. The strikeout/walk ratio are in order for his type of stuff. He's fielding his position. He's holding runners well. All the things that make his successful."
Godley was pushed back until Sunday to give Zack Greinke and Patrick Corbin the first two cracks the Rockies in this series, a maneuver designed to give Arizona the best chance to win this series and in the final week of the season.
Like Freeland, Godley has set career highs in virtually every statistical category in his first full season in the rotation, although he has battled consistency at times. He leads the NL with 12 hit batters and 16 wild pitches, and his 1.45 WHIP ranks 30th of the 31 NL qualifiers.
Godley has not been at his best since mid-August, going 1-4 with a 7.42 ERA in his last six starts. Included in that was a 13-2 loss at Colorado on Sept. 10, the first contest of a four-game series in which the Rockies won three.
He is 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA in three starts against the Rockies this season and is 4-1, 3.99 in eight career outings.