Marquis two-hits Dodgers for 10th win
Rockies set club record with 21 victories in June
LOS ANGELES -- No one with a bat could slow Rockies pitcher Jason Marquis on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. But a rumbling-voiced man with a thick gray beard in a red shirt and overalls, who took his position in front of the Rockies' dugout during the seventh-inning stretch, had a chance.
Marquis was buzzing through the Dodgers en route to one of the finest performances in Rockies history when Grandpa Elliott, a New Orleans street musician whom the spotlight has found, began a stirring but lengthy rendition of "God Bless America." Briefly, the concern grew that the minutes, which seemed like hours, would freeze Marquis. Forget it.
"Best I've ever heard," Marquis said. "It gave me goosebumps."
Marquis completed one of the best pitching performances in Rockies history, a two-hitter for his third career shutout as the Rockies beat the Dodgers, 3-0, in front of 43,347. It was Colorado's second victory in 11 games against Los Angeles this season -- and both were with Marquis pitching.
It also gave the Rockies 21 victories in June, a club record for any month. They won 20 in the September surge of 2007 that led to a playoff berth and, ultimately, their first World Series trip.
Take the seventh-inning stretch melody, couple that with Elliott's even longer improvisation of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the game, and there might have been enough music to soundtrack Marquis' 86-pitch gem, in which he struck out three and didn't walk any, with a few notes to spare.
"I can promise you in all the games that I've managed in the big leagues, I can't tell out that I've had a starting pitcher that pitched a nine-inning, complete-game shutout and did it with less than 90 pitches," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Seven of Marquis' wins have come after Rockies losses. The Rockies, though, have won 21 of their last 25 games, and contend they are a different team now, but the victory was good for perception, since the Dodgers have so dominated the season series.
"I try not to put too much extra on any one start, because I feel like I leave myself short," said Marquis, who has two complete games this season and six in his career. "But when it's all said and done, to get a win after a loss, here in Dodger Stadium against a team we're chasing is definitely a special thing."
It marked the 15th two-hitter in club history and sixth in complete-game fashion. Considering all that, and the fact the team's only one-hitter took three pitchers, and Marquis (10-5) has one of the best individual pitching performances ever for the Rockies.
Maybe Marquis' work Tuesday took a back seat to one two-hitter in Rockies annals -- Josh Fogg's two-hitter at Seattle on June 30, 2006, when he faced the minimum 27 batters. But even the author of that one, now a member of the Rockies' bullpen, gave the nod to Marquis.
"I didn't have two RBIs," Fogg said.
The Rockies' runs were limited to Brad Hawpe's 13th home run of the season, a solo shot off Chad Billingsley (9-4) in the fourth, and Marquis' two-run single with the bases loaded in the seventh.
Hawpe, who could be traveling with Marquis (and possibly starter Aaron Cook and closer Huston Street) to the All-Star Game in St. Louis next month, did his part.
Billingsley struck out 11 and gave up five hits, but couldn't beat Marquis to becoming the National League's first 10-game winner. The homer by Hawpe on a changeup over the plate assured Marquis of reaching double figures first.
"He's really good about pounding the corners," Hawpe said, "and I told myself before the game if I get something out over the plate, I'm going make my bat gets to it."
Marquis and the club needed the strong performance.
Marquis' last start was his shortest outing of the season -- 3 1/3 innings in an 11-3 loss to the Angels. Also, the Rockies lost to the Dodgers, 4-2, in 13 innings on Monday night.
Marquis yielded a single by James Loney in the second inning. He didn't have another Dodgers player reach base until Juan Castro singled to right with two down in the eighth. Mark Loretta knocked a hard grounder at Clint Barmes, who blocked it and had to make a hard throw to first to end the inning.
Two starts ago, Marquis went 8 2/3 innings in a home victory over the Pirates, but he didn't have his secondary pitches working. On Tuesday, he estimated he threw 75 percent sinkers, but mixed in some cutters.
"Something clicked when I got on the mound," Marquis said.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.