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Rox capitalize on mistake-prone Nats

Rox capitalize on mistake-prone Nats

DENVER -- The Rockies ended two innings Tuesday night by striking out with the bases loaded.

Their starting pitcher admittedly had nothing and gave up four runs on two homers.

Yet none of that mattered. Part of the 5-4 victory over the Nationals at Coors Field before 25,315 was the clean, unselfish baseball the team has played since Jim Tracy took over as manager in late May.

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And part of it, of course, was that the Nationals were in town.

Clint Barmes' eighth-inning sacrifice fly gave the Rockies their third unearned run of the night. It came after the Nationals' third error.

But Tracy, whose team is 25-11 since he took over and is being considered a worthy National League West contender, preferred not to look at the opposition's errors, but at his team taking advantage of an opportunity. As has been the case often in the past couple of weeks, the Rockies didn't pound the opposition. But Barmes, who knocked an RBI single in the fourth inning on a similar controlled swing, became the embodiment of how to win games even with imperfect offense.

"What he did tonight offensively was very pleasing to see," Tracy said. "When we inserted him in the two-hole [in the batting order], he got going in a very similar manner to what you saw tonight."

Said Barmes: "I was very thankful in that situation to get a pitch that I could hit the ball in the outfield. That's really all I was trying to do. It worked out."

Some thanks must go to the Nationals, who upped their error total to 77 and saw their record fall to a Majors-worst 24-57.

With one out and runners at first and second from walks by Julian Tavarez (3-7), pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs hit a sharp grounder to pitcher Joe Beimel. But Beimel sailed the throw over shortstop Cristian Guzman and straight to the backup man, second baseman Willie Harris. Harris and Guzman would also make errors.

"Tomorrow is another day," Tavarez said. "It's not going to be easy to go to bed. I just lost the game because you just want to do nothing but help the team.

"By going out there and walking those two guys, it's kind of tough, but it goes away. It doesn't go away right away, like now, but later on it will."

Said Beimel: "When you're in the whole game and it comes down to one play and you lose the game, those are always tough. We've had a lot of those this year and it's just been really frustrating."

Barmes' second RBI of the night made a winner of Alan Embree (2-2), who entered with two outs and one on in the eighth. Embree's pickoff move fooled Austin Kearns so much that the Nationals outfielder fell on the basepaths. Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 20th save.

Embree became the first pitcher to earn a win without throwing a pitch since Jays pitcher B.J. Ryan, who won for the Orioles over the Tigers on May 1, 2003. STATS Inc. has no record of any other pitcher accomplishing the feat since it began tracking pitches in 1986.

Rockies starter Jason Hammel, who gave up one run in an eight-inning complete-game loss to the Dodgers in his previous start, gave up two homers -- a Josh Willingham solo shot in the second and a Ryan Zimmerman three-run homer in the third. Hammel yielded 10 hits, but no other runs in 5 2/3 innings.

"It could've been really bad," Hammel said. "I honestly had nothing -- fastball all over the place, couldn't even get to the off-speed stuff because I couldn't locate a fastball."

He left the bases loaded in the sixth, but left-hander Franklin Morales -- called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs late Monday night -- struck out Nyjer Morgan in his first regular-season relief appearance. Morales made two appearances in the 2007 World Series, and gave up seven runs in three innings for a 21.00 ERA. But it's a new beginning for him.

Morales has been a prospect as a starter. The rotation doesn't have a spot for him, but he was deemed too good to stay in the Minors.

"I need to do my job -- it's very important for me and my career," Morales said.

Brad Hawpe knocked an RBI single in the first off Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann. Chris Iannetta's sacrifice fly drove in a run. Another scored on Harris' error on Dexter Fowler's grounder. Barmes tied it with an RBI single.

The inning ended, however, when Hawpe struck out with the bases loaded. Nationals reliever Sean Burnett fanned Ian Stewart with the count full with the bases loaded in the eighth. This was after Guzman's error kept the inning alive.

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

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