John Buck had gone 92 at-bats since his previous home run when he ended the power drought with a leadoff blow in Sunday’s fourth inning at Coors Field.
Given a choice, however, he would have rather ended the skid on either the 91st or 93rd at bat -- when the bases were loaded. The Marlins, who lost 3-2 to the Rockies, could have used those runs.
“I’m in no position to be choosy right now,” said Buck, who has had a season to forget at the plate, where he is hitting just .188.
Buck grounded out both times with the bases loaded and two outs, in the first inning and again in the fifth, as the Marlins were unable to cap off the series with their first three-winning streak since the All-Star break.
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The Rockies finally figured out a way to keep Giancarlo Stanton in the park as the slugger’s home run streak at Coors Field ended at six games. Stanton went 0 for 2 and twice was walked intentionally with first base open and a runner (or runners) aboard.
Had Stanton succeeded in homering Sunday, he would have joined Roy Campanella and Willie Mays as the only players in major-league history to homer in seven consecutive games at one ballpark. Campanella did it in 1955 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, and Mays matched the feat in 1965 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
The Marlins took advantage of a blown call, one of four on the afternoon, to take a 1-0 lead in the first. Emilio Bonifacio, who returned to the lineup after spending the past two weeks on the disabled list, was called safe at first when umpire Larry Vanover signaled that first baseman Tyler Colvin’s foot came off the bag after taking the throw from first. Replays appeared to show Colvin’s foot was on the bag.
Bonifacio later scored on Carlos Lee’s ground ball. But, despite loading the bases in the inning, the Marlins had to settle for just the one run when Buck grounded to short on a 3-2 pitch from Drew Pomeranz to end the inning. He did the same thing in the fifth, also on a 3-2 pitch. With runners at second and third and one out, the Rockies put Stanton aboard with an intentional walk. The strategy paid off as Donnie Murphy, who was also back in the lineup for the first time in two weeks, struck out and Buck again grounded to short.
“It made sense,” Stanton said of the two intentional walks. “Open base and Murphy, he’s been out for a while, so why not give it a try?”
Still, Buck’s solo home run in the fourth had given the Marlins a 2-0 lead.
But it didn’t last for long. The Rockies, who were hitless through the first three innings, came up with three runs in the fourth to take the lead for good, with Jordan Pacheco putting Colorado ahead with his two-run home run off Josh Johnson. It was only the second home run of the season for Pacheco in 317 at-bats.
Pacheco hit Johnson’s first-pitch fastball over the fence in left.
“It was a decent pitch, but he got his hands in there and got it up,” Johnson said.
Though he has been pitching better the second half of the season, Johnson’s record doesn’t show it. With Sunday’s loss, he is now 7-10.
“I’ve been a lot better,” Johnson said. “It’s been a lot closer to what I’ve been accustomed to. But I’ve still got to get my team wins, whatever it takes.”