Rockies beat Pirates to snap eight-game losing streak

DENVER -- Ubaldo Jimenez was back to All-Star form and the Rockies found their groove at the plate. It all adds up to one thing: A return to the win column for Colorado.

Jimenez rebounded from two rough starts to pitch seven effective innings and the Rockies snapped an eight-game skid with a 9-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

"It feels good to get that behind us," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said. "It was good to see Ubaldo bounce back."

Carlos Gonzalez and Brad Hawpe homered and Clint Barmes had two hits and three RBIs for the Rockies, who had dropped 11 of 13.

Jimenez (16-2) returned to the form that earned him a start in the All-Star Game. He was hit hard by the Florida Marlins on July 19 and lasted just two innings Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies, but he bounced back against Pittsburgh. Jimenez allowed one run and four hits, struck out six and walked three. He moved within a victory of tying the franchise record for wins held by three pitchers.

His 16 victories leads the majors.

"It feels really good, not just for me but for the team," said Jimenez, who won for the first time since the All-Star break. "We needed to get back on track."

The Rockies used 15 hits and timely two-out offense to snap their longest losing streak since June 2008. A day before the All-Star break they had a chance to move into a first-place tie with San Diego but entered Thursday nine games behind the NL West-leading Padres.

The Rockies failed to scored more than four runs in a game during the losing streak.

"It's never fun to lose eight games in a row, especially where we're at record-wise and in the division," Barmes said. "This is a big game for us to come out to win."

Neil Walker homered for the Pirates, who were trying for their first three-game road sweep in two seasons.

The Pirates got on the board first. Jose Tabata led off the game with an infield single and came home on Garrett Jones' two-out double.

The Rockies tied it in the bottom of the inning on Gonzalez's solo home run, his team-leading 19th.

Colorado broke it open in the second. Ryan Spilborghs drew a one-out walk, Miguel Olivo singled and the runners moved to second and third on third baseman Pedro Alvarez's throwing error.

Paul Maholm intentionally walked Ian Stewart to load the bases, and after striking out Jimenez Dexter Fowler doubled home two runs. Barmes followed with a two-run single to make it 5-1.

That was more than enough for Jimenez, who earned his first win since July 8.

"When you've got a four-run lead with Ubaldo on the mound you can start to relax more at the plate," Barmes said.

Olivo had an RBI single in the fifth and the Rockies added two more in the sixth. Barmes' RBI single chased Maholm, and after reliever Steven Jackson entered Troy Tulowitzki hit a sacrifice fly to make it 8-1.

"They didn't take big swings," Maholm said. "They just kind of put the ball in play and hit it over into short right."

Maholm (6-9) gave up eight runs and 11 hits. He walked three and struck out three in 5 1/3 innings.

"It didn't seem like he got in much of a rhythm today," Pirates manager John Russell said. "There were times he threw the ball very well but I think the biggest thing that hurt him today was that he had trouble putting hitters away."

Hawpe homered in the seventh and Walker hit a two-run homer off Rafael Betancourt in the eighth to make it 9-3.

Tracy was happy to see his team keep adding runs.

"It's exactly what hadn't been there for the road trip and the first two games of this series," he said.

Game notes
Pirates right-hander Ross Ohlendorf says he's fine after taking a line drive to the head in his start Wednesday. He plans to make his scheduled start Monday. ... Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen was a late lineup scratch due to a sore right shoulder. He is day to day. ... Rockies closer Huston Street (right abdominal contusion) pitched the ninth after being cleared to play before the game.