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ROCKIES 9, DIAMONDBACKS 2 Morales' poise, purpose show


ROCKIES 9, DIAMONDBACKS 2 Morales' poise, purpose show
PHOENIX - Franklin Morales stood at his locker, eager to share a story few outside of his family have ever heard. Wednesday's start, he quietly explained, meant everything to him. But not why you might think.

He wasn't pitching to stay in the Rockies' rotation. He was performing for his father, Felix, who died 18 years ago to the day in a car accident.

"I was 5 when it happened," Morales said. "I wanted to honor him."

Dad would have been proud. Showing poise absent last season, Morales steered the Rockies to a 9-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

The Rockies' first series win at Arizona since Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2007, is more impressive when you consider that Morales knew he would be optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs after the game to make room for reliever Jason Hammel. While manager Clint Hurdle would not guarantee Morales would pitch for the Rockies on April 21, when a fifth starter is necessary again, he conceded the left-hander made a compelling argument.

"He stayed away from the big hit," Hurdle said. "He just needs to go down (to the Sky Sox) and pitch. A lot can happen in the next two weeks."

Growth and change have been reverberating themes for the Rockies this week. Making his first start, rookie center fielder Dexter Fowler hit his first-ever home run on the first pitch of the game. And fellow wunderkind Ian Stewart blasted a pinch-hit homer into the right-field pool.

But it was Morales who made the biggest splash. He pitched six innings and was touched for just one run on four hits. It was his best game since an April 6 outing a year ago against the Diamondbacks .

That performance quickly became irrelevant when Morales melted into a mechanical mess and was banished to the minors. This outing appears to have deeper roots. One sequence offered a glimpse at his development and why he could help fill the void left by the injured Jeff Francis.

While Morales' fastball was a bit straight, and while he was predictable early, he never lost command or confidence. In the sixth inning, he struck out Conor Jackson looking on a terrific cross-fire fastball. Mark Reynolds stepped into the box and fell behind on a first-pitch curveball. Reynolds flew out harmlessly as Morales pounded his fist into his glove.

"That was for my dad," he said.

The Rockies have insisted for weeks that even with mediocre starting pitching, they will contend. In winning two straight, Ubaldo Jimenez and Morales held Arizona to one run and struck out 14 in 13 innings.

It was an ideal boost for a team heading home to face the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies, who won all five games against the Rockies last season. Friday's game is billed as the home opener, but it could just as easily be construed as the second leg of the Redemption Tour.

"They killed us last year. It's time to get a little revenge," Troy Tulowitzki said. "To show that we are playing the game a little differently this year."

Troy E. Renck: 303-954-1301

or trenck@denverpost.com ------------------ Upcoming Pitching Matchups Today: Off

Friday: Phillies' Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09 ERA*) vs. Rockies' Jason

Marquis (11-9, 4.53*), 2:10 p.m., FSN

Saturday: Phillies' Brett Myers

(0-1, 6.00) vs. Rockies' Jorge De La Rosa (10-8, 4.92*), 6:10 p.m., FSN

Sunday: Phillies' Chan Ho Park (0-0, 0.00) vs. Rockies' Aaron Cook (0-0, 23.14), 1:10 p.m., FSN .... (*2008 stats)


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 9, 2009

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