DENVER (AP) — Called up to pitch in place of the injured Ricky Nolasco, Kris Johnson had a rough go of it.
Johnson gave up a two-run homer to Drew Stubbs before recording an out, and the Minnesota Twins fell to the Colorado Rockies 6-2 on Friday night in the teams’ first interleague meeting at Coors Field in six years.
Johnson (0-1), recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Thursday, went four innings and gave up five runs on eight hits, including another two-run homer, in the third inning by All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
“I just wasn’t making enough quality pitches. I paid for it,” Johnson said. “Especially Stubbs’ home run and Tulowitzki’s. The balls were up and over the plate. That’s what is going to happen. Especially in a ballpark like this.”
Jorge De La Rosa (10-6) pitched six innings of one-run ball for Colorado. He walked one and struck out three in winning his fourth straight.
The Rockies also benefited from the return of Carlos Gonzalez, who missed the previous 35 games because of a benign tumor on his left index finger that had to be excised surgically.
He singled ahead of Tulowitzki’s home run and made two sparkling defensive plays in right field: a sliding catch in foul territory on a popup by Eduardo Nunez and whipping a throw to third base on the fly to nail Brian Dozier. He was trying to advance from first base on Kendrys Morales’ single.
“He made some pitches,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of De La Rosa. “We hit some balls pretty hard. They made some nice plays. Dozier got thrown out at third base and their guy (Gonzalez) throws a pellet to third base. Their defense made some plays behind him. He got in some jams and got out of innings. He kept us off the board.
Brandon Barnes added a pinch-hit home run off reliever Matt Guerrier in the seventh inning.
Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau, who played in Minnesota for 11 years and ranks third in team history with 221 homers, went hitless in four at-bats in his first game against his former team. He’ll return to Minnesota next week for All-Star game festivities as a member of the NL home run derby team.
Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki was shaken up after fouling a ball off his left heel in the third inning. He stayed in the game, but Gardenhire said he’d be rested Saturday.
“He’s not going to allow us to take him out there,” Gardenhire said. “He won’t be playing tomorrow. He will sit. He will be back out there Sunday.”
Nolan Arenado tripled to start the second and scored when Wilin Rosario followed with a single.
Gonzalez singled to start the fourth before Tulowitzki connected for his 21st homer of the season, tying Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton for the NL lead. It’s also the most home runs Tulowitzki has had in his career before the All-Star break.
The Twins got a run in the second on Nunez’s run-scoring groundout and a second on his eighth-inning fielder’s choice grounder.
NOTES: The Twins traveled to Coors Field for the second time in team history and the first since May 2008, when the team went 1-2 on its inaugural trip to Colorado. … Johnson was making his second start of the season for the Twins and the sixth of his major league career. … Minnesota’s Kevin Correia (4-11) is set to pitch Saturday’s second game of the weekend interleague series against Colorado’s Tyler Matzek (1-3).
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