Rockies 9, Rays 3
Nolan Arenado didn't saunter around the bases so much as soar.
The Colorado Rockies rookie third baseman wasn't trying to show anyone up - he was simply in that big of hurry to get into the dugout and celebrate his first grand slam.
''It was awesome,'' he said.
Grand slams usually are.
Carlos Gonzalez hit a go-ahead homer in the fifth and Arenado broke open a tight game with his big shot two innings later, sending the Rockies to a 9-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night in David Price's first start since his run-in with umpire Tom Hallion.
After Arenado circled the bases, his teammates mobbed him at home plate.
And once he made it into the dugout, more high-fives and hugs awaited.
''It's a good feeling,'' said Arenado, who spent the early part of the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, before making his major league debut on April 28 at Arizona. ''But the main thing is we got the win. So, that was nice.''
He was even presented the home run ball following the game. All he had to surrender to procure it from the fan was his autograph on another ball.
A small price to pay for such a big memento.
''It didn't take him long to get his first major league grand slam. It takes most of us years to do that,'' said manager Walt Weiss, who had one in his career. ''This guy is a pretty good player.''
His fielding was just as big as his bat. Arenado made a barehanded play on a slow roller in the sixth that had everyone exulting, especially his manager.
''I think Nolan showcased his skills tonight, on both sides of the ball,'' Weiss said.
Jon Garland (3-2) threw five solid innings and surrendered three runs to help the Rockies snap an 11-game home skid in interleague play. They're now 8-3 against the Rays at Coors Field.
For Price (1-3), this was a game he'd rather forget. The AL Cy Young Award winner struggled with his grip on the ball and wrestled with his command as he surrendered nine earned runs in 6 2-3 innings.
His biggest mistake? Easy, hanging a curve to Arenado.
''It just wasn't a very good curveball,'' Price said. ''I felt fine out there. I just didn't make enough quality pitches and they hit my mistakes.''
Price has had an eventful week after accusing Hallion of directing a profanity toward him during the Rays' win over the Chicago White Sox last Sunday. Price thought Hallion missed a pitch and exchanged words with the plate umpire while heading to the dugout after the seventh inning.
In this game, there were no confrontations with plate umpire Clint Fagan. Price didn't believe there would be, saying the day before that he didn't think umpires held grudges.
''I've got to get better,'' Price said.
Troy Tulowitzki finished 3 for 3 with three RBIs and was hit by a pitch. The All-Star shortstop didn't start the night before because of soreness in his legs and was taken out once the Rockies built up a big lead.
Gonzalez hit a deep solo shot to center off Price in the fifth to give the Rockies a 4-3. Two innings later, Colorado added five runs. Price got two quick outs, before Gonzalez reached on a single. Evan Longoria made a nice grab on Tulowitzki's grounder, only to throw wide of the bag and allow runners to move up a base.
Ben Zobrist was then off target with Michael Cuddyer's roller, though it was later ruled a hit, allowing Gonzalez to score. After Wilin Rosario drew a walk, Arenado cleared the bases with his second homer of the season.
Price was staked to an early 3-1 lead but couldn't make it hold up. He surrendered a game-tying two-run double to Tulowitzki in the third.
That was after the Rays scored three times with two outs in the third. James Loney had a bloop double down the line and Kelly Johnson followed with a two-run single.
Loney had three hits to raise his average to.380, which would be among the AL leaders but he doesn't have enough plate appearances to qualify yet.
Colorado scored in the first when Tulowitzki laced an RBI single off the glove of Loney.
Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar left the game in the second inning after being hit on the left hand by a pitch from Garland. The team said he had a bruised hand.
''It's pretty swollen right now,'' Escobar said through an interpreter. ''It feels kind of stiff, but it's OK.
''I thought I broke it. I'm happy and grateful it's not broke. I'll try hard to get back on the field in a couple of days.''
NOTES: Tampa Bay's relievers stood in the outfield grass during batting practice and watched Orb win the Kentucky Derby on the giant scoreboard. ... The Rays' streak of home runs in 17 straight games came to a halt. ... Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin (strained back) will come off the 15-day DL on Sunday to face the Rays, who will counter with RHP Alex Cobb. ... Colorado will hold a bobblehead giveaway on Sunday, handing out a Vinny Castilla replica to the first 20,000 fans. ... OF Dexter Fowler sat out after tweaking his right hip flexor on Friday. ... Arenado has eight hits this season, including four for extra bases (two homers, two doubles).