PHILADELPHIA -- His steadiness belies his age and experience. You just wouldn't know Colorado's Ramon Ramirez is a 24-year-old rookie relief pitcher still learning his way through the Major Leagues. Not by the way he carries himself. Not by his pinpoint accuracy. And not by the way he adjusted against the Phillies in front of 19,512 on a blustery Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. Ramirez may not have had his best stuff working, but he had enough to keep the Phillies from scoring another run in a tense 7-6 win. It marked the first Major League victory for Ramirez, who threw 2 1/3 clean innings in relief of starter Miguel Asencio -- making his first start this season. Ramirez gave up his first walk this year and barked at himself for it, before refocusing and blanking the Phillies in the fifth and sixth innings.More
"Ramirez gave us a big shot in the arm," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "The one thing about Ramirez is that he just keeps on bringing it. We've seen him throw nothing but strikes this year, and I think he was only behind two hitters, but he was a little all over the zone tonight. He had to throw more pitches, but he battled back." Ramirez has been caught off guard by his early success. He's shown an effective sinker, slider and change-up -- a potent mixture of pitches. "I'm a little surprised," admitted Ramirez, speaking through interpreter Luis Gonzalez. "This is my first year in the Majors and I'm working on throwing the ball down. I feel real comfortable and happy to be in this situation." Ramirez is also 2-for-2 as a hitter, singling in the sixth, before giving way to Ray King in the seventh. The victory also signified the return of Brian Fuentes, the Rockies southpaw closer who took a six-day sabbatical resting lower back spasms. Fuentes grabbed his third save of the season and converted a franchise-record 20th consecutive save opportunity. He did so catching a pair of dangerous hitters, Bobby Abreu and Ryan Howard, looking at called third strikes. "It felt good," Fuentes said. "It was good to be thrown right into the fire, because that's what I asked for." Fuentes dealt with a little traffic in the ninth, when Chase Utley led off the inning with a walk and later stole second. Then Fuentes caught Abreu looking at a fastball away, got some liberty to pitch around Pat Burrell, walking him. Fuentes then proceeded to catch Howard gawking at a nasty breaking ball that started around his hip, and slunk to his knees. Fuentes closed out the Phillies by coaxing Aaron Rowand to fly out to third. Men in scoring position, "don't really matter to me, whether it's the winning run on base or at the plate, unless the guy is coming across the plate," Fuentes said. "I just throw my concentration into the guy at the plate. That's my whole focus." The Rockies staked Asencio to a 7-1 lead by the top of the fourth. But the right-hander was stung by an onslaught of runs in the bottom of the inning, marked up by the bottom of the Phillies lineup. With a 7-1 lead, Asencio might have been guilty of relaxing against Philadelphia's seven, eight and nine hitters, who were a combined 5-for-6 against him. The biting part of the Phillies five-run fourth was an opposite-field double down the righ- field line from relief pitcher Geoff Geary, who drove in his first Major League run. The Phillies scored two more times, pulling to within 7-6, before Ramirez came on and ended the inning by getting Howard to ground to short. "Asencio just shows you that if you don't make quality pitches throughout the lineup, you're going to get hurt," Hurdle said. "Asencio came out of the blocks pretty clean and threw his three pitches well, but I wanted to give him a little more rope and see what he can do." The Rockies rocked Floyd early, sending eight batters to the plate in the first inning. Colorado got the first two batters on, when Cory Sullivan reached on a walk and Clint Barmes singled. Floyd got Matt Holliday to fly out to second, but walked Garrett Atkins to load the bases with one out. Brad Hawpe made Floyd pay, lining a single to right to score Sullivan and Barmes. Eli Marrero followed by roping a single to center, scoring Atkins. After a Barmes solo homer in the second, the Rockies built their lead further, when a Jimmy Rollins throwing error was responsible for two more runs. Sullivan picked up his first RBI of the year with a double to right. Sullivan later scored on Rollins' errant throw to first on a Barmes ground ball.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less