Despite watching a 5-1 lead quickly evaporate into the thin Colorado air, Carlos Gonzalez elevated the Rockies to a 13-5 win over the Houston Astros in the third of a four-game series.
Gonzalez slammed three home runs for the first time in his career, his 11th, 12th and 13th of the season, picked up four hits and knocked home four runs while taking center stage in the Rockies' home run derby.
"He's in a different place right now," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "He's in a place where you never thought you'd see him be. He's stepping to just another level."
Michael Cuddyer hit his second grand slam of the season in the first inning. Dexter Fowler added a three-run homer for the Rockies, who have won the first three games of this set.
Despite allowing five runs on 11 hits in six innings, Christian Friedrich (3-1) picked up the win for Colorado.
"His only mulligan was in the third inning when he started getting behind in the count," Tracy said. "When you get yourself in that position, [hitters] become a lot more [selective]. I really like the way he rebounded."
Lucas Harrell (4-4) struggled for the Astros, surrendering nine runs in five- plus innings, and giving up 10 hits and three walks.
"We allowed five home runs with the first one being a grand slam," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "We battled back, we got some hits, but they got five homers."
Cuddyer started the scoring barrage in the first inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, Cuddyer hit a long fly ball that just cleared the right field fence for a grand slam. The home run was reviewed but upheld after replay.
The Astros got a run back in the second after J.D. Martinez delivered the first of his three hits to lead off the inning. After Justin Maxwell grounded into a fielder's choice, he advanced to third on a Chris Johnson single. Maxwell then scored when Harrell helped his own cause with an RBI single.
The Rockies got some more two-out magic in the second. Fowler crushed a double to left-center field, then Marco Scutaro knocked him home with a base hit to make it 5-1.
The Astros quickly came back to tie the game, though. With the bases loaded and one out, Maxwell singled and everyone moved up a base. After Johnson drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, Chris Snyder roped a two-run double down the left-field line to score Martinez and Maxwell and tie the game.
Gonzalez broke the tie in the fifth inning with his first home run of the night, a towering shot deep to right-center field, which gave the Rockies a 6-5 lead.
The Rockies broke the game open in the sixth with six straight hits. Wilin Rosario led off the inning with a base hit and advanced to second on an error by Maxwell. He scored when Jordan Pacheco singled him home. After an Eric Young Jr. base hit, Fowler hit a game-breaking three-run homer to make it 10-5. After a Scutaro single, Gonzalez socked his second home run to center field, making it 12-5.
Gonzalez completed the trifecta in the eighth inning with a rope off the second deck in right field to cap off the 13-5 win.
"You can't do much better than the left fielder did tonight," Tracy said. "I don't think you can hit four balls harder than he hit tonight."
Adam Ottavino, Esmil Rogers and Josh Roenicke pitched three scoreless innings to hold Colorado's lead and preserve the victory.
Earlier in the day, the Rockies designated Jamie Moyer for assignment. Tracy announced after the game that Josh Outman will start Friday against the Dodgers in his place.
Tracy also announced that Troy Tulowitzki was scratched with a strained left groin and he will be evaluated tomorrow.
Gonzalez has four multi-home run games this season, the most in the majors...Cuddyer hit his second grand slam of the season, the other came on May 5 against Atlanta...Gonzalez is the 13th Rockie to hit three home runs in a game, the last was Jason Giambi who hit three on May 19, 2011 in Philadelphia...Gonzalez is the first Rockie to hit a home run in three straight at-bats since Jeff Baker, who did it from September 17-18, 2006...Houston left 13 runners on base and went 4-for-17 with runners in scoring position...Fowler is 9-for-14 with two home runs, a triple, a double, six RBI and eight runs scored in the series.