DENVER (AP) — Initially inserted into the Colorado Rockies' rotation as a stop-gap injury replacement, Jordan Lyles has rapidly become a fixture.
Lyles pitched effectively into the eighth inning for his third straight win, Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer, and the Rockies beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 Saturday night.
"He's really given us a lift in that rotation," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Lyles.
He originally was slated to begin the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs but wound up filling in for Tyler Chatwood after he strained a hamstring late in spring training.
"The biggest factor is his two-seamer," Weiss added. "It's something he worked on all spring, his fastball angle and pitching to the bottom of the zone, and you could see those guys beating it into the ground. He's a mentally tough kid. He competes. He goes after hitters. He's been great."
Lyles (3-0), acquired in December from Houston in exchange for outfielder Dexter Fowler, allowed one unearned run and five hits in seven innings. LaTroy Hawkins pitched a hitless ninth for his fifth save in five chances.
"As a visitor, it wasn't fun, knowing you're coming here." Lyles said. "Balls seem to carry a little further here but guys (pitchers) try to keep the ball on the ground and they can't hit it over if they hit the top of the ball. That's my approach and just try to let our great infield do their job."
The Rockies were also helped by a reversed call that produced their first run.
The game was delayed briefly a couple of times when a squirrel wandered on and off the field. The animal was eventually corraled by groundskeepers and taken away.
Kyle Kendrick (0-2) went seven innings and allowed three runs on six hits in a solid outing but could not avoid a seventh straight loss, dating to last Aug. 11. The last Phillies pitcher to have a losing streak of seven games or more was reliever Brad Lidge, who lost eight in a row over 57 appearances from April 18-Sept. 23, 2009.
"Made a mistake to Morneau," Kendrick said. "That first run. It was a replay. I guess that's why we have it, but it's frustrating when it doesn't go (your way)."
Colorado got on the scoreboard when home plate umpire and crew chief Tim Welke ruled Nolan Arenado safe on a bang-bang play at the plate in the third after initially calling him out. Weiss asked Welke to take another look at the play, and after viewing the replay, the umpire determined that catcher Carlos Ruiz had blocked the plate before he received the throw home in violation of new collision rules instituted this season to better protect catchers and base runners.
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