Baseball / Sports

Rockies boosted by long ball, halt Twins' winning streak at 3

DENVER -- Kris Johnson met the Twins in Colorado with two tasks. One was to keep them in contention like he did the last time he spot-started for them, the other was to try to extended the run of solid outings by other members of the rotation.

Fail and fail.

Colorado jumped on Johnson early and didn't let up as the Rockies rolled to a 6-2 victory to open the teams' final series before the All-Star break. The Twins saw their three-game winning streak end as Johnson was removed in the fifth.

Johnson, who was called up from Class AAA Rochester to fill in for the injured Ricky Nolasco, gave up five runs over four innings before being replaced by Samuel Deduno for the fifth inning. The last time Johnson was seen in a Twins uniform, he figured out a way to shut out the Dodgers for 4 1/3 innings despite six walks. The Twins would have gladly taken that on Friday.

The Rockies are floundering in the NL West but they are 24-23 at home, where they are a different team. All-everything shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, for example, entered Friday batting a whopping .433 at Coors Field.

Opposing pitchers have been punished here, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire held out hope before the game that Johnson could come in, once again, and keep the Twins in contention.

"The ballpark should bode well for him," Gardenhire said. "He throws the ball down in the zone. The last time he was up here everything was knee high and you have to do that here. If you elevate the ball it does fly here."

Charlie Blackmon led off the first with a single and Drew Stubbs clobbered a two-run homer to center field that would not have carried out of Target Field.

Trevor Plouffe doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out in the second to make it 2-1. But Nolan Arenado led off the bottom of the inning with a triple and scored on Wilin Rosario's single to put Colorado ahead 3-1.

Johnson gave up a leadoff single in the fourth to Carlos Gonzalez then elevated a fastball to Tulowitzki that he drove to the opposite field for a two-run home run and a 5-1 Rockies lead. Colorado got their leadoff batter on in all four innings Johnson was on the mound for. In four innings, Johnson gave up five runs on eight hits with three strikeouts.

It was Gonzalez's first game back after missing 35 games because if an inflamed left index finger. He announced his return with authority in the third, when Kendrys Morales singled to right with Brian Dozier on first.

Dozier turned for third and appeared to have the extra base locked up. But Gonzales threw a strike to Arenado at third to get Dozier by a hair. Gardenhire came out to stall while the Twins looked at replays. But they quickly pulled Gardenhire off the field.

Tulowitzki also came up with a gem of a play in the field, too. With the bases loaded and two out in the top of the seventh, Kurt Suzuki hit a ball deep in the hole that Tulowitzki backhanded, then jumped in the air and threw a strong, accurate throw to Justin Morneau to retire Suzuki, who earlier fouled a ball off his left ankle but stayed in the game.

(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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