By Jose M. Romero, Associated Press
PHOENIX — Kyle Freeland gave Colorado precisely what it needed after a tough few days for its pitching staff.
The 23-year-old right-hander held the high-scoring Arizona Diamondbacks to a run over six effective innings and Trevor Story homered to help the Rockies win 3-1 Friday night.
Colorado moved into first place in the NL West, a half-game ahead of the Diamondbacks, in the opener of the three-game series.
The Rockies had just lost three straight at Coors Field to the Washington Nationals, allowing 42 runs over that span.
Freeland (3-1) gave up a run and six hits with two walks. He struck out two and lowered his ERA to 2.93. Chris Rusin, Adam Ottavino and Greg Holland combined for three scoreless innings, with Holland earning his 10th save.
“I was impressed by how he hung in there,” Rockies manager Bud Black said of Freeland.
Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray (2-1) struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings but allowed three runs and five hits with three walks.
Nolan Arenado hit a ground-rule double to left field with two outs in the first inning and scored on Carlos Gonzalez’s single. Story, who hit six of his 27 homers last season against Arizona, made it 2-0 in the second with his fifth of the season.
The Diamondbacks answered with a run in the third. Freeland got two outs before A.J. Pollock singled, Chris Owings walked and Paul Goldschmidt lined a 3-2 pitch to center field to drive in Pollock.
The Diamondbacks had runners on second and third with one out for Goldschmidt in the fifth, even after Story dived behind second base to rob Pollock of a hit and force a fielder’s choice. But Freeland worked out of the jam, as Goldschmidt was retired on a broken bat popup and Yasmany Tomas bounced out.
“Good pitch, good result,” Black said. “Hitters three and four in a one-run game, good stuff.”
Charlie Blackmon’s two-out single in the seventh drove in Pat Valaika and chased Ray. Blackmon extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
Arizona had five straight wins over the Rockies going back to last season and entered the game second in the majors in total runs with 132.
“Kind of an unfortunate night for us. I thought Robbie did an incredible job, keeping a very offensive team down and kept us in striking distance all game long,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “Offensively we couldn’t piece things together. We couldn’t string a bunch of hits together, which we typically have done.”
Both teams had outfielders turn in big defensive plays. Tomas, not typically known for his glove work, ran down Dustin Garneau’s fly for a backhanded catch in the second inning before hitting the left field wall. Blackmon took a hit away from Arizona’s David Peralta when the Rockies center fielder slid to catch a sinking fly ball.
Rockies: RHP Chad Bettis, on the 60-day disabled list as he battles testicular cancer, is with the team this weekend and played catch in the outfield before Friday’s game. “This is what I needed,” Bettis said. “It’s been great to walk through those doors.” Bettis has seven days of treatments remaining over three weeks. … INF Ian Desmond played an extended spring training game on Friday as he works his way back from a broken left hand. Desmond could return to the Rockies in the next few days. … OF David Dahl (rib) is also at extended spring training doing rehab work.
Diamondbacks: 2B Brandon Drury returned to the lineup after missing Thursday to rest a jammed right knee.
Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson (1-3) brings a 7.11 ERA into his scheduled start against Arizona. It will be his fourth road start in six this season.
Diamondbacks: RHP Zack Greinke (2-2) faces the Rockies. He is 7-4 with a 4.09 ERA in 19 career starts against Colorado.
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