Fowler’s sacrifice fly lifts Rockies over Pirates, former skipper

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Dexter Fowler came up with a game-winning RBI, July 17, 2012.

Dexter Fowler came up with a game-winning RBI, July 17, 2012.

DENVER (MLB) — Dexter Fowler continued to pump up the Rockies on Monday night.

The Rockies led the Pirates all the way until a 58-minute rain delay in the ninth inning, only to see Pedro Alvarez tie the game with a three-run homer on the first pitch after play resumed.

But Fowler made the night end happily with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to give the Rockies a 5-4 victory at Coors Field in front of 36,907.

“They hit a homer, and it is deflating, but we’re going to win as a team and lose as a team,” Fowler said. “We knew we had to put something together.”

Wilin Rosario singled off Jason Grilli (1-3) to open the bottom of the ninth. Josh Rutledge bunted a third strike foul, but pinch-hitter Jason Giambi singled Rosario to third, and Fowler delivered the game-winning fly ball to center as the Rockies (35-54) handed the Pirates (49-40) their fourth loss in 11 games.

It was a winning finish to another standout night for Fowler, who went 1-for-4 and has 14 hits in his last eight games. Fowler also made the biggest play in what arguably was the best defensive game of the Rockies’ season by leaping and reaching above the center-field wall to rob Rod Barajas of a home run.

The Rockies can only hope their season begins to mirror that of Fowler. He was hitting .219 and dealing with heavy criticism on May 14. Now he is batting .300.

At 5-5 in their last 10 games, the Rockies aren’t exactly as hot as Fowler, but Monday revealed some of the reasons the Rockies believe there is light at the end of the the second-half tunnel.

Starter Jeff Francis, despite falling behind in counts and not feeling sharp, held the Pirates to one run and six hits in five innings. Reliever Josh Roenicke threw three scoreless innings with one hit and one walk to lower his ERA to 2.33. Third baseman Jordan Pacheco, still learning his position, made diving plays against Clint Barmes to open the third and Josh Harrison to open the sixth. Rutledge made a running, spinning play on an Andrew McCutchen grounder to shortstop after Pacheco robbed Harrison.

“Obviously, it’s not coming at the time we want, but better late than never,” Fowler said. “Guys are swinging the bat well and the pitching’s starting to come together. We’re going to be all right at the end.”

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