DENVER — Nolan Arenado wanted to put his benching behind him. He did it with one of his best games of the season.
Arenado rebounded with three hits, including a home run, and the Colorado Rockies routed the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 on Saturday night.
Tyler Matzek pitched three-hit ball over seven scoreless innings. Drew Stubbs and Corey Dickerson also homered for the Rockies, who have won three straight.
It was a bounce-back performance for Arenado, removed from Friday’s game when he didn’t hustle down the line on a grounder to the pitcher in the fourth inning.
Arenado met with manager Walt Weiss before Saturday’s game and said he agreed with the decision.
“Nolan had a great game. We’ve all seen him do those things before,” Weiss said. “He was impressive tonight to go back out there and have the game that he did. He’s a special player.”
The 2013 Gold Glove winner took out any frustration he might have had on Pirates starter Jeff Locke. Arenado singled in the third and fifth and then hit a solo home run in the seventh, his eighth of the year.
“Obviously, it’s hard to end on a day like yesterday,” he said. “Today was a good day. I was able to make my plays, get a couple of knocks and help the team win, because yesterday I showed I wasn’t a team player. I’m happy today I was able to help them out.”
Dickerson added a two-out solo homer to chase Locke (2-2).
That was more than enough for Matzek (2-4), who continued a recent string of strong starts for Colorado. The Rockies’ rotation had allowed 13 earned runs in its last 44 innings entering Saturday, and Matzek added to that with seven shutout innings to get his first win since his major league debut against Atlanta on June 11.
Colorado’s starters have a 2.29 ERA since the All-Star break.
“We’ve got a little bit of a roll going here,” Matzek said. “There’s a good energy going on in the locker room and it starts with the starting pitchers.”
Stubbs made it 2-0 with a leadoff homer in the fourth, his 11th, but rolled his right foot on the swing. He played the field in the top of the fifth but knew he couldn’t continue.
“I had to grit my teeth to get around the bases. Walking felt fine, but whenever I jogged onto the field to play the top half of the fifth, coming off the field I knew I needed to shut it down,” Stubbs said. “I think what I’ve got is a mild foot sprain, not too serious, but pretty uncomfortable.”
Colorado added two more in the fifth on Arenado’s second run-scoring single and Dickerson’s bases-loaded groundout.
“They’ve pitched it better than us. They’ve hit it better than us. They’ve fielded it better than us the last two nights,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Matzek made it hold up with the strongest start of his brief career. He pitched around a leadoff double in the fourth, and a double play got him out of a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh.
Josh Rutledge added a two-run single in the eighth — his third hit of the night — to make it 8-0.
Ike Davis denied Colorado its first shutout at Coors Field this season with a one-out homer in the ninth.
The Pirates came into Coors Field having won six of eight, but they’ve struggled against the Rockies. They’ve managed just two runs in the first two games in Denver, while Colorado has scored 16.
Locke allowed six runs on 10 hits and struck out six in 6 2-3 innings.
“I was just not 100 percent sharp,” he said. “It’s a good hitting team. It just goes to show if they could pitch like they hit here, they wouldn’t be 15ﾽ back, that’s for sure.”
NOTES: Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (left hip flexor strain) flew to Philadelphia to be examined by a specialist. ... Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was scratched from the lineup due to a swollen right ankle. He rolled his ankle at home before arriving at Coors Field on Saturday. ... Hurdle said right-hander Gerrit Cole (right lat strain), who is scheduled to throw about 80 pitches in his first rehab start Monday for Triple-A Indianapolis, will make a second rehab start to get his pitch count up to 100. ... Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez (sore left knee) was not in the starting lineup for the fourth straight game.