Atkins, Rockies power past Marlins

Atkins, Rockies power past Marlins

MIAMI -- The normally poker-faced Brian Fuentes snatched the baseball out of the air and screamed, having let the excitement of Rockies One-Run Fever capture him on Saturday night.

Fuentes escaped a one-out, bases-loaded ninth inning to seal a wild 8-7 victory over the Marlins. It was the third straight victory for Colorado, which held onto its half-game lead over San Francisco in the National League West, and can complete a three-game sweep of Florida on Sunday afternoon.

Having hit Miguel Cabrera, given up a soft single to Josh Willingham, and walked Mike Jacobs, Fuentes found himself in danger of blowing his second consecutive save -- a streak he didn't want. Before blowing his last save but backing into a win on Friday night, Fuentes had converted 21 straight save opportunities.

But Fuentes, who has been searching for fastball consistency since battling back spasms, forced an Eric Reed pop up on a first-pitch changeup, and struck out the struggling Reggie Abercrombie (.175) with two changeups and a fastball.

When catcher Miguel Ojeda flipped him the ball at the end of the game and the handshakes for the Rockies' eighth victory in 11 one-run games began, Fuentes cut loose.

"I just kind of lost it," said Fuentes, who has five saves this season. "I don't remember what I said, but I wasn't trying to show any of those guys up. It was just a very emotional time for me out there.

"I wanted to prove that I could still do this. I know it's only one [blown save]. But I felt like I let my team down a little bit yesterday. I wanted to pick myself and pick my team back up, and show them that I'm there for them."

Miguel Asencio (1-0) was there for the Rockies on Saturday, even though he won't be on Sunday.

Originally scheduled to start the finale of the three-game set with the Marlins, Asencio was bumped as the club decided to activate Byung-Hyun Kim for his 2006 debut after recovering from a strained hamstring. Before getting the news that he would be optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs, Asencio entered in the fifth with the game tied, 5-5, after starter Josh Fogg turned wild, and pitched three strong innings.

Fogg gave up four runs in the fourth -- two on his own wild throw on a bunt play, and one on a wild pitch -- and turned a four-run lead into a tie score. The Marlins hit just one ball hard off Asencio, but that was Willingham's two-run homer in the seventh that made it a one-run game.

Jose Mesa struck out two and overcame a double in the eighth, while Fuentes survived the ninth to give Asencio his first victory since May 2, 2003, when he pitched a complete game for Kansas City against Baltimore before elbow problems derailed his career.

"It's hard, but they can not play with 26 guys here," said Asencio, who leaves with a 4.70 ERA in two games, including one start. "It doesn't work like that."

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For the Marlins, committing four errors and making several other misplays that could have added at least three more to that total is not the way it works, either. But they were resilient despite the defensive problems and the hitting of the Rockies.

Garrett Atkins hit a two-run homer off Justin Vargas, drove in three runs, and had a double. Matt Holliday knocked two doubles and a triple, driving in two runs. But Cory Sullivan, out of the starting lineup for just the third time this season, provided the biggest spark.

Sullivan entered in the sixth with the score tied, 5-5, and led off a two-run inning by doubling and scoring when relief pitcher Randy Messinger (0-1) picked up a Clint Barmes bunt and threw wildly to third. Sullivan doubled in the seventh to drive in Luis Gonzalez, who had doubled, for an 8-5 lead.

"Anytime you come off the bench, you're probably going to come in a tight spot," Sullivan said. "You try to make an impact."

Fuentes had difficulty making sure that Sullivan's impact on Saturday's game was a lasting one.

"We just let him pitch," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's got the ability to make some big pitches in some tight times."

Fuentes also showed the ability to let out a little emotion when appropriate.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.