BY DENNIS GEORGATOS,Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Alex Cobb pitched effectively into the seventh inning, withstanding three solo homers by Colorado and helping the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Rockies 8-3 Sunday.
Jose Lobaton, Ryan Roberts and Kelly Johnson each drove in two runs for the Rays. Tampa Bay took two of three and won a series at Coors Field for the first time in four visits.
Cobb (4-2) went 6 2-3 innings and allowed eight hits. Nolan Arenado hit a two-out homer in the seventh that pulled the Rockies within 6-3, a day after the rookie had a grand slam.
Coming into the game, Cobb had only given up two home runs in his five previous starts. But he wriggled out of trouble in key spots, getting two of his six strikeouts in the sixth after a throwing error put a Rockies baserunner on second with one out.
Lobaton stretched Tampa Bay’s lead in the eighth with a two-run single after a second passed ball by catcher Wilin Rosario allowed baserunners Evan Longoria and James Loney to advance to third and second, respectively.
Tampa Bay jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first off Jhoulys Chacin, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game. He suffered a lower back strain April 19 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, though he pitched 6 1-3 scoreless innings for the victory before being forced exit.
Matt Joyce came home from third on a wild pitch around RBI singles by Loney and Johnson as the Rays broke on top against Chacin (3-1). He gave up a season-high six runs — five earned — on eight hits in seven innings.
Michael Cuddyer connected for his seventh home run leading off the second, driving a 2-2 pitch from Cobb into the left field bleachers. Troy Tulowitzki pulled the Rockies to within a run when he hit a solo shot leading off the fourth for his seventh of the season.
Tampa Bay added three more runs in the sixth. Joyce drew a leadoff walk and went to third when Loney’s line shot glanced off leaping second baseman Josh Rutledge’s glove for a single. Johnson followed with an RBI single and Loney and Johnson both moved up on a passed ball before Roberts doubled to drive them both home for a 6-2 lead.
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton also came off the disabled list after missing the past two weeks because of a left forearm strain.
NOTES: Tampa Bay improved to 4-8 all-time at Colorado. … To make room on the roster for Helton and Chacin, the Rockies optioned infielder Ryan Wheeler and right-hander Tyler Chatwood to their Triple A affiliate in Colorado Springs. … The Rays’ Ben Zobrist has left the team to attend funeral services for his grandfather. … Tampa Bay has scored 27 runs in the first inning, more than the Rays have had in any other inning. … The Rockies are off Monday before opening a three game-set against the New York Yankees on Tuesday. It’s the Yankees’ first trip to Colorado since 2007, when the Rockies swept a three-game set from New York. … With two errors, the Rays had their first multi-error game of the season. … Tampa Bay returns to begin a 10-game homestand on Monday against Toronto with Jeremy Hellickson (1-2) pitching against the Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle (1-2).