Livan Hernandez and Ubaldo Jimenez did not disappoint, dueling into the late innings, as the Colorado Rockies blew open a close game with three runs in the eighth Saturday afternoon, downing the Washington Nationals 6-2 in the first game of a doubleheader from Coors Field in Denver.
Unfortunately for the Nats, most will remember Brian Bruney's struggles in the Rockies last at bat.
Ian Stewart's RBI double off of Bruney, followed by Clint Barmes 2-run single, turned a tight 3-2 Colorado lead into a comfortable 6-2 advantage.
Manny Corpas put the Nats down in order in the 9th inning.
Stewart contributed a pair of run scoring hits and Ubaldo Jimenez kept the Nationals at bay as Colorado evened the series with Game 2 of the doubleheader later Saturday night.
Stewart's RBI base knock in the 7th gave the Rockies the lead for good, then he added another RBI on a double in the eighth for some insurance.
Bruney struggled in the game deciding eighth, walking the first two batters he faced and allowing two hits and three runs.
That was all Jimenez needed for his seventh win of the year. Ubaldo allowed just two runs over eight innings, scattering seven hits, walking one, with five strikeouts. He threw 115 pitches and 70 for strikes.
It was another absolutely splendid matchup between the two Major League leaders in ERA. Livan Hernandez and Jimenez came into the game with a combined 10-2 record and ERA's of 1.04 and 0.93.
The Nationals took an early lead with a couple of base hits in the first inning. Nyjer Morgan got a base hit to lead off the game, then after a groundout, scored on an RBI single by Ryan Zimmerman.
Rockies took the lead on Hernandez with a pair of solo homers from Jason Giambi and Miguel Olivo.
Jimenez settled down after the first inning, retiring 12 of the next 14 Nats he faced. His only walk to Morgan in the third was wiped out thanks to Nyjer getting caught stealing by a nice throw from Miguel Olivo.
Hernandez was again solid for the Nats. Despite the two solo homers, Livan allowed just one other run-scoring single from Ian Stewart. Hernandez's line impressive again: 6 innings, scattering seven hits with only one walk, three strikeouts and three earned runs. His ERA goes up to just 1.46.
Nyjer Morgan got on base three times early on with a pair of base hits, but he got erased twice on a caught stealing and a double play.
Big moment for the Nats in the 6th inning, after Nyjer got another base hit, Adam Kennedy grounded into a double play. Then, Adam Dunn hit a blast to deep right field for his 8th homer of the season. Ubaldo got aggressive and it backfired with Dunn who smacked the homer, tying the game at 2-2.
A couple of double plays really hurt the Nats today. The first one in the 6th inning erased a base runner in front of Dunn's solo blast.
In the 7th inning, with the Nats down 3-2, Ian Desmond struck out and then Roger Bernandina was gunned down at 2nd base caught stealing by Miguel Olivo to end the inning on a double play.
Rockies took the lead on a Stewart single in the sixth inning, 3-2, this after Livan got a huge strikeout on Olivo, who had hit a homer earlier.
The Nats threatened again in the 8th inning against Ubaldo. Pinch hitter Josh Willingham was hit by pitch and pinch runner Willy Taveras reached second base on a Morgan sacrifice. However, Jimenez fired a 97 mile per hour fastball that Dunn flew out to center field to end the inning.
Ryan Zimmerman remains on fire, going 3-4 with a double and RBI.
The Rockies Brad Hawpe smacked a pair of doubles off of Hernandez and also reached base in the third on a Willie Harris' misplay in left field.
Olivo had a good game for Colorado besides his solo homer, he caught Morgan and Bernadina attempting to steal second base.
The Nats are now 20-16 and the Rockies improve to 17-18. Game 2 features Luis Atilano vs. Jason Hammel and begins at 8:10 pm eastern.