The suddenly hot Colorado Rockies aim to record a season-best fifth straight victory when they face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night in Denver.

Colorado has won seven of its past nine games while playing some of its best baseball of the season. The Rockies have kept the scoreboard busy by scoring 31 times over the past three contests.

“We have to keep going, there’s a lot of baseball left,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “We have to hit, we have to pitch, we have to play defense. Right now, over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been doing that.”

The Rockies matched their season best for runs and racked up 17 hits while trouncing the Pirates 13-2 on Friday night in the opener of the three-game series.

Brendan Rodgers homered and matched his season best of four RBIs and Elias Diaz equaled his season high of three runs driven in for Colorado. Charlie Blackmon also stood out with three hits and two RBIs, and All-Star C.J. Cron smacked his 21st homer of the campaign.

Cron and Rodgers hit back-to-back homers during a fourth-run seventh, and Rodgers had a three-run double in the third to put the Rockies ahead for good.

“It was a very good game for us,” Rodgers said in a postgame television interview. “We put together some really good at-bats. … We just capitalized and kept swinging it.”

The Pirates have dropped three straight after winning a season-best four games in a row. The first two setbacks were both by one run in extra innings against the Miami Marlins.

Of course, the series opener with Colorado wasn’t close, and Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton opted not to pitch a position player while leaving Dillon Peters in to be torched for six runs and eight hits over the final two innings.

“I’m not a huge fan of (pitching a position player),” Shelton said afterward. “The fact that (Peters) was able to get through that last inning for us was important. We’ve (pitched position players) more times than I’d like, but I was glad that Dillon was able to get us through, and we didn’t help him out much.”

Mitch Keller (3-6, 4.88 ERA) will take the mound for the Pirates on Saturday against the Rockies’ Jose Urena (0-1, 2.66) in a battle of right-handers.

Keller is coming off a strong outing in which he gave up one run and five hits over seven innings to beat the Marlins on Monday. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out five.

The 26-year-old is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA in two career appearances (one start) against the Rockies. He made a relief appearance against Colorado on May 25 and gave up one run and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Jose Iglesias is 3-for-7 with a homer and four RBIs against Keller, while Kris Bryant is 3-for-6 with two doubles and three RBIs.

Urena is making his third start for Colorado since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque. The 30-year-old pitched at least six innings in both outings.

He last pitched Monday when he lost to the San Diego Padres. Urena gave up two runs and seven hits over six innings.

Urena allowed three runs (one earned) and four hits in 3 1/3 innings in two relief appearances against the Pirates in April when he was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. Overall, he is 1-3 with a 6.61 ERA in 11 career appearances (four starts) against Pittsburgh.

Iglesias (neck stiffness) was replaced at shortstop by Garrett Hampson to start the fifth inning on Friday, but Black is hopeful he will be available on Saturday. Iglesias collided with Josh VanMeter in the second while the Pittsburgh first baseman was trying to catch a throw.

–Field Level Media