DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook doesn't care much about stats. Look at his good performances that don't result in wins and even a couple of shaky ones that had better results, and it's obvious that caring too much about the numbers could drive him crazy. But after pitching just well enough Thursday night in a 5-3 victory over the Giants to open a four-game series and a 10-game homestand in front of 20,120, Cook highlighted the only numbers that should mean anything. "I'm 1-1 against the West this year, so I don't have to look at 2-and-whatever," Cook said with laughter.More
The Rockies made Cook (2-1) their No. 1 pitcher, but a step toward becoming a true ace -- the dependable sort who can lift a team into contention, and then some -- is to beat the teams he needs to beat. Last season, he was 2-10 with a 5.63 ERA against the National League West. Troy Tulowitzki adding two hits, including a two-run double, Matt Holliday adding an insurance run by tripling and scoring in the eighth, and a strong bullpen effort that culminated in Brian Fuentes' ninth save also helped bring victory. "We got a little bit of something from everybody -- most times when we needed something, we found a way to get it going," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. On a night when his team needed him to step forward, Cook held the Giants scoreless for his first five innings. But in the sixth, with his sinker not as effective as earlier, Cook yielded three of the Giants' six hits off him and two of his four walks, and saw his lead diminish to 4-3. In addition to his win-worthy work on the mound, Cook helped the offense with two sacrifice bunts -- one that led to an error that keyed a three-run second inning, the other that drove in a run for a 4-0 lead against Giants starter Noah Lowry (4-3) in the fourth. Cook hoped he set a tone against the West. The Rockies are five games below .500 and in last place, but close at five games behind the Dodgers. Thursday began a stretch of seven games in the division, four against the Giants and three against the Diamondbacks. "Having [last year's] numbers against the West is something you've really got to change to be successful," Cook said. "I'm kind of taking it personal, which I should." Tulowitzki knocked his two-run double on an 0-2 pitch in the third. He later added a single and is 5-for-7 this season against Lowry. Later in the inning, Tulowitzki scored for a 3-0 lead when Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel wheeled after fielding Holliday's grounder and threw wildly to third. Tulowitzki and Lowry bumped at the plate, but the situation calmed. In the fourth, Yorvit Torrealba drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on Brad Hawpe's single. Cook saw first baseman Ryan Klesko playing deep and bunted on his own. Through the first five innings, two of the three hits off Cook were doubles, but he was never in trouble. The only time he faced two runners was when he walked Lowry and gave up a Randy Winn single with two down in the fourth, but he worked Vizquel into a groundout. With Cook out, the Giants placed two men on with two out against Jeremy Affeldt in the seventh, but Manny Corpas forced a Ray Durham fly ball. After a two-out error on first baseman Garrett Atkins and a walk to Mark Sweeney in the eighth, Corpas forced a Winn fly ball to right. There was some drama involving Barry Bonds -- 10 behind Hank Aaron's all-time home run mark of 755 -- in the ninth. Rich Aurilia's single with one out meant Fuentes had to face Bonds, who was 8-for-10 with two home runs and two doubles off him. Fuentes walked Bond on five pitches, after never having walked him before. "It was pretty simple -- I was not going to let him beat us," Fuentes said. Funetes then made it pay off by getting Durham to hit a liner at Tulowitzki, who doubled Aurilia off second.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less