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MLB: Gonzalez homers in fourth straight as Rockies win

Clint Barmes, right, is congratulated by third base coach Rich Dauer after hitting a home run to left field.
Clint Barmes, right, is congratulated by third base coach Rich Dauer after hitting a home run to left field.
Haraz N. Ghanbari, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Carlos Gonzalez homered for the fourth straight game and Clint Barmes connected in his third in a row, helping the Colorado Rockies beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Gonzalez has homered in six of the last eight games. Before this stretch, he had six homers in 130 career games. His latest landed above the Nationals' out-of-town scoreboard in right field to lead off the eighth inning.

The NL wild card-leading Rockies won despite leaving the bases loaded three times and improved to a season-high 14 games over .500 with a 67-53 record.

Jason Marquis (14-8) gave up nine hits and three runs over six innings, with one walk and one strikeout.

Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 32 attempts. He has now converted a team-record 23 save chances in a row, despite giving up a home run to Josh Bard on his first pitch.

The Rockies looked like they had a chance to take a big lead right from the start as Colin Balester (1-3) struggled with his control.

In his previous 20 career starts, Balester had walked more than three batters only once. Wednesday, he walked the first three batters, and four of the first five. He added an error, throwing an attempted pickoff into center field.

After Balester walked the bases loaded, Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run double down the left-field line. Brad Hawpe followed with a walk. When Balester got No. 6 hitter Ian Stewart to fly out to left for the first out, the crowd responded with a loud sarcastic cheer.

Balester got the next two outs to end the inning. Marquis led off the second with a double, and scored on Dexter Fowler's triple. Balester's night ended with a walk to Todd Helton, the fifth he issued. The 1 1-3 innings were the shortest outing of Balester's career.

Saul Rivera came on to get the last two outs of the inning — although not before he also issued a base on balls — as the Rockies left the bases loaded in each of the first two innings.

Barmes hit his 20th home run of the season in the fifth inning off Rivera to give Colorado a 4-1 lead.

Washington rallied in the fifth. Nyjer Morgan tripled, Cristian Guzman drove him home with a single and Ryan Zimmerman followed with an RBI-double, all with two outs. Zimmerman also drove in the Nationals' first run of the night with a triple in the first inning.

The Rockies left the bases loaded for the third time in the sixth inning. Nationals reliever Ron Villone hit a batter, and gave up a single and a walk with two outs before striking out Hawpe.

NOTES: Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann had reconstructive elbow surgery Wednesday morning in California and will travel back to Washington Thursday. He is expected to be out 12 to 18 months. ... Colorado has an eight-game winning streak against the Nationals. ... Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau will throw out the first pitch for the Nationals Thursday. ... The Nationals sold 6,000 tickets for $1 apiece for Friday's game in 3 hours Wednesday, part of a promotion tied to an on-field, pregame news conference with newly signed No. 1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg.