Haren, D-backs top Rockies

2010-04-27T05:00:00Z Haren, D-backs top RockiesNICK PIECORO The Arizona Republic Arizona Daily Sun
April 27, 2010 5:00 am  • 

DENVER -- The Diamondbacks can expect to meet some resistance on this seasonlong 11-game road trip, from tough opponents, imposing environments and demonstrators, who are expected to use the visiting team's home-state politics for street protests here Wednesday and in Chicago on Thursday.

As for the first two obstacles, they posed little challenge for Diamondbacks right-hander Dan Haren on Monday.

Looking more like his usual first-half self, Haren pitched eight strong innings and Chad Qualls escaped a harrowing ninth-inning predicament as the Diamondbacks topped the Colorado Rockies 5-3 at Coors Field.

And just like that, a team that seemed to be in five-alarm panic mode is just a win from the .500 mark after victories in three of its past four in games against playoff teams from last year.

"We've got to beat everybody," Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said. "We try not to get too far ahead of ourselves as far as who we're playing. We feel like we can play with anybody."

Coming off a start against St. Louis in which he allowed seven runs, Haren looked more like his usual self, at least after a somewhat rocky first inning. After Adam LaRoche gave the Diamondbacks a lead with a three-run home run in the first inning, Haren gave up a solo home run to Rockies leadoff man Carlos Gonzalez and a couple of more hard-hit balls before escaping the inning.

But Haren seemed to settle in for the next several innings, at one point setting down nine in a row. He ran into some trouble in the eighth.

With one out, Eric Young Jr. delivered a pinch double, and Gonzalez drove him home with a single, cutting the Diamondbacks' lead to 5-2. But Haren got pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs to pound a curveball into the ground for an inning-ending double play on his 115th and final pitch.

"I threw a really good curveball to him, one of the better ones I threw all day," Haren said. "It was hard, down and away. Usually I just throw the curveball for a strike, but in that situation I put a little bit more on it."

Haren improved to 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA in six career starts at Coors Field, though he can't really explain why he has had success here.

"It's not the easiest place to pitch in the world, obviously," he said. "You just try to keep the ball down, and if you make a mistake, miss down. Maybe it just really makes me focus in on keeping that ball down."

Haren finished with 10 strikeouts, several coming on his trusty splitter, but he said he isn't feeling particularly sharp.

"I'm still kind of fighting myself," he said. "My secondary pitches are there, my curveball, my cutter. My split has been really good this year. But I'm fighting myself with fastball location. Luckily I've ended up coming out of here with three wins. But I still can get a lot better."

LaRoche's blast -- which came off Rockies starter Jason Hammel, who left after three innings because a strained right groin -- followed a two-out walk by Justin Upton and a single by Mark Reynolds.

"Everybody had to do their part," Hinch said. "That's good team offense."

The Rockies made things interesting against Qualls. Todd Helton walked to start the inning, and Miguel Olivo and Ian Stewart delivered consecutive two-out singles. But Qualls jumped ahead of pinch-hitter Jason Giambi 0-2 before getting him swinging at a slider in the dirt.

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