Colorado beat the Pirates, 8-4, at PNC Park, as Carlos Gonzalez threatened for his second cycle in nine days and callup Esmil Rogers pitched six workmanlike innings and doubled twice. The win came less than 24 hours after what could have been a rousing victory, turned into an 8-7 defeat on Pedro Alvarez's three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th, after Todd Helton's two-run shot had put the Rockies on top.
In building an 8-0 lead on Sunday and keeping it, the Rockies earned a split of four games with the Pirates and cut their distance behind the National League Wild Card-leading Giants to 4 1/2 games.
"Our chance to win the series blew up [Saturday] night," said Gonzalez, whose two-run, first-inning home run was his eighth dinger in the last 11 games. "Our only option was to split today, and we showed up very excited."
Tracy admitted that Sunday was the second time he entered a game knowing his team's spirit was tested. On July 19 at Florida, the Rockies produced a big run total on the road -- where such occurrences have been rare -- only to lose on a game-ending homer. Each time, the club won the next day.
"Where's today's game going to go after what took place last night?" Tracy said. "We once again showed our resiliency."
The Rockies have shown signs of road offense. One reason for the 22-34 road record is a lack of baserunners. But after Tracy and his position players met for an ideas exchange after Thursday night's 5-1 loss to the Pirates, the Rockies have amassed 38 hits over three games, including 14 on Sunday.
"You get guys on base, you can score some runs," said Dexter Fowler, who singled, added an RBI double and scored twice.
Gonzalez's first-inning homer off Pirates starter Paul Maholm (7-10) was his team-high 25th. Gonzalez added an RBI double in the second and two more singles. His 4-for-5 day made him 24-for-48 (.500) with 15 RBIs in the last 11 games.
"That's the key to hitting -- if you know what they're trying to do, you've got more chances," Gonzalez said.
All of the Rockies were clued in against Maholm, who gave up eight runs (six earned) and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings. Fowler singled in a run and Clint Barmes, Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki added consecutive RBI doubles off Maholm with two out in the second. Rogers' third-inning double drove in a run and chased Maholm.
"When you can't get a guy out with two outs and they score an extra six runs that's what it boils down to," Maholm said.
Rogers (2-2) earned his first win as a Major League starter by lasting six innings and giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits. The Rockies used all of their relievers Saturday night and desperately needed length from Rogers, called up to fill in for right-hander Aaron Cook, who is out with a sprained right big toe.
"When you've got an eight-run lead, all you've got to do is throw a strike," Rogers said. "The batter can't get eight runs."
It was a banner offensive day for Rogers, who hit .209 as a shortstop for the Rockies' Dominican Summer League team from 2003-05 before being shifted to the mound.
The Rockies have an off-day on Monday before opening a three-game series against the Mets at Citi Field on Tuesday, with ace Ubaldo Jimenez (17-2) pitching to break a tie with Kevin Ritz (1996), Pedro Astacio (1999) and Jeff Francis (2007) for the Rockies' record for wins in a season.
Even bigger, it's another chance to make a push.
"We're definitely headed in the right direction," Tulowitzki said. "Hopefully, that game last night doesn't come back to haunt us. It would've been nice to win that one. But at the same time, we're right there."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.