Both were throwing strikes — one from the mound after a few bad outings, the other from shortstop after being sidelined for a week with a sore elbow.
Gray pitched seven crisp innings and Story picked up in All-Star form right where he left off by hitting two doubles as the Colorado Rockies rolled to a 10-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday.
Colorado won its fourth straight game since being swept in Los Angeles by the NL West-leading Dodgers, who remained 1 1/2 game ahead of the Rockies in the division. The defending NL champions won 7-4 at Arizona.
Colorado did gain ground on St. Louis, pulling within a half-game for the second wild card when the Cardinals lost to the Brewers.
“We don’t think too much, only play baseball like we can play and see what happens,” outfielder Gerardo Parra said. “We believe. We’re strong. We’re together.”
Gray (12-8) was moved up a day when scheduled starter Tyler Anderson was scratched due to shoulder tightness. Gray worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and only picked up steam from there. His fastball topped out at 97 mph for the first time in several starts.
The right-hander’s one costly mistake was an elevated fastball that Rhys Hoskins hit for a homer in the seventh when the game was out of reach. Gray ended his night by striking out Scott Kingery to finish the inning and left to a round of applause.
“I felt like it was more of myself tonight,” Gray said. “It was more aggressive and attacking the zone. That’s where I need to be.”
The Rockies cranked up the offense to open a four-game series against a Phillies team that has been eliminated from postseason contention. David Dahl lined a two-run homer in the fourth, Tony Wolters drew four walks and Charlie Blackmon had a single to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 16 games.
Story didn’t miss a beat in his return after missing a week with inflammation in his right elbow. His presence was felt at the plate with two hard-hit doubles to center and in the field, where he turned two double plays.
“He came out of a nine-inning game fine. That was a confidence-builder for Trevor,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He went through the game and played hard, swung hard, threw the ball hard. We feel good about where Trevor is.”
Colorado jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third as Nolan Arenado and Parra delivered run-scoring singles off Zach Eflin (11-8). Wolters and Gray each drew a bases-loaded walk from reliever Austin Davis. Another run scored on a wild pitch.
Eflin lasted 2 2/3 innings and allowed five runs before leaving with some tightness in his left side. He’s heading back to Philadelphia on Tuesday to get it checked out.
“I felt like the right thing to do with the great season he is having was to get him out of there and out of harm’s way,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “It was a tough decision but I wanted to protect him and his long-term health and well-being.”
Rockies: Anderson remains optimistic he will pitch again this season. “Just have to think about getting back as quick as I can,” he said.
Crashing into the Wall
There was a scary moment in the fourth when Phillies left fielder Aaron Altherr ran into the fence while trying to catch Dahl’s homer. The side of Altherr’s face slammed into the padded fence, his hat flying off. Altherr eventually limped to a cart and was taken away. He sprained his right big toe and bruised a knee. He was also evaluated for a concussion.
On the play, the fan trying to catch Dahl’s homer was hit in the head by the ball, his hat flying off as well.
Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (9-11, 4.59 ERA) makes his second start this season against Colorado on Tuesday. He beat the Rockies on June 14 by allowing two runs over 6 2/3 innings.
Rockies: Starter-turned-reliever Chad Bettis (5-2, 5.18 ERA) will once again start and throw between 30 and 50 pitches before turning things over to a fresh bullpen courtesy of Gray going deep into Monday’s game.
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