By Michael Kelly Associated Press
DENVER — Matt Belisle lives for late-inning pressure situations. Friday, he faltered where he normally thrives.
Evan Longoria hit a tiebreaking single in the 10th inning and Kelly Johnson later added a two-run homer, helping the Tampa Bay Rays to a 7-4 win over the Colorado Rockies.
Michael Cuddyer had a two-run homer and Josh Rutledge hit a solo shot as the Rockies started interleague play on the wrong track at home once again. The Rockies were 0-9 against AL teams at Coors Field last season.
They could have avoided a 10th loss but there usually reliable set-up man had an off night. He entered Friday having allowed runs in just three of his 14 appearances but was tagged for three runs on four hits in the 10th inning.
“This one’s on me. I don’t know. This is where I like to pitch is in that type of situation so I’ll be ready for it tomorrow,” Belisle said. “I got nothing to say except that was a very poor job tonight. I can’t explain it any better. There’s just no excuse.”
Ben Zobrist led off the 10th with a double to left off Belisle (1-2), setting the stage for Longoria. Johnson provided some insurance by lining his fourth homer of the season just over the wall in right-center.
“I maybe stayed in one spot too long on Zobrist. He was able to sit on one location,” Belisle said. “It’s still a ground ball. I have no excuse. I just got hit around. I made a mistake pitch to Kelly for the long ball. After I give up a run my job’s to keep it there.”
The Rockies got two men on in the bottom of the 10th but Eric Young Jr. struck out on a check swing to end the game.
A win would have provided some good news after the Rockies had to play without shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Tulowitzki was kept out of the lineup with “heavy legs” but did come on as a pinch-hitter with the game tied in the bottom of the eighth. He was intentionally walked and was immediately lifted for a pinch runner.
Manager Walt Weiss said there’s a chance Tulowitzki would play Saturday.
“We’ll check in with him (Saturday). I’m hopeful he’ll be in there but it’s not for sure,” Weiss said. “He seems to be doing OK.”
The training room got more crowded when outfielder Dexter Fowler had to leave the game when he hurt his right hip flexor in the fourth inning. After the game he said was fine and wants to play Saturday.
“I just landed weird. It’s fine,” he said. “It just tightened up on me. I knew it wasn’t that serious. I just tweaked it a little bit.”
Without their two of their best hitters the Rockies struggled to drive in runs and left 12 men on base.
“Yeah, that’s what it came down to,” Weiss said. “We had a few opportunities to win that game but we didn’t get the hit. We couldn’t get it tonight.”
Colorado squandered a chance to score with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth. Reliever Jake McGee struck out Young on a 96-mph fastball before handing the ball over to Brandon Gomes, who threw a nasty curve that Jordan Pacheco took for a called third strike.
“I was trying to find a good pitch to hit and get a chance to drive runs in,” Young said. “Unfortunately I didn’t do it at that particular time but that’s baseball.”
In their half of the eighth, the Rays had a chance to take the lead with runners on the corner and one out. Johnson hit a chopper that reliever Wilton Lopez snared and quickly threw home, where Wilin Rosario tagged out a sliding Longoria. Lopez then retired Yunel Escobar on a fly to right.
Desmond Jennings also had a two-run homer for the Rays, who improved to 3-4 on their road trip after having a game in Kansas City snowed out the day before.
Kyle Farnsworth (1-0) earned the win by pitching a perfect ninth and Fernando Rodney picked up his fourth save in five chances, striking out Eric Young Jr. with two on to end the game.
Matt Moore received his first taste of pitching at Coors Field — and it was pretty sour. At least, it was by his standards of late.
Moore lasted five innings and surrendered four runs, matching the total he had given up in his last five starts combined. He also allowed a season-high seven hits in the no-decision.
The Rays lefty had won five straight before Friday, entering the contest with a 1.13 ERA — second-best in the AL — only to see it creep up to 1.95 by the end of the night.
“I thought we did a nice job against Moore. He’s really tough,” Weiss said. “We put some good at-bats against him. he’s one of the best in the game up until now.
Moore was at his best when the Rockies had something brewing in the fourth. He walked Jonathan Herrera and starter Jeff Francis to begin the inning. With Moore struggling to find the strike zone, Fowler put down a bunt to advance the runners.
Only, the speedy Fowler hurt his right hip flexor when he bumped into first baseman Sean Rodriguez in a close play at the bag. Moore then wiggled out of the jam by striking out Pacheco and Carlos Gonzalez.
After the inning, Fowler was replaced in center field by Young.
The Rays took a 4-3 lead in the fifth when Jennings hit a two-run homer off Francis.
However, Moore couldn’t hold it as he surrendered an RBI double to Nolan Arenado in the bottom of the fifth.
Down 3-0 in the third, the Rays finally solved the soft-throwing Francis. Ryan Roberts and Zobrist each had run-scoring doubles.
With All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki out of the starting lineup with soreness in his legs, Cuddyer was bumped up to the cleanup spot. It paid off in the first as he launched a two-run homer to deep center, his sixth of the season.