CLEVELAND -- Luck helps. The Rockies had plenty of it in Monday night's 8-7 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field in front of 15,224.
But they also had Jason Giambi, whose swings add some needed skill, especially on the road.
Giambi, serving as the designated hitter in the Rockies' first road game in Interleague Play this season, capped a six-run fifth inning with a three-run homer off Fausto Carmona (4-9) that gave the Rockies a 7-4 lead. All but one of Giambi's seven home runs have come on the road.
The Rockies, helped by an odd bounce here, a strange call there, and maybe even the fickle whim of the night air, won for the fifth time in their last six games and seventh time in their last 11. They also climbed back to .500 at 36-36. In addition, the Rox are 3-1 in Interleague Play this season and 51-31 against the American League since 2006 -- a .622 winning percentage that tops all National League teams.
But there was nothing lucky about Giambi's shot off Carmona, who had two outs and nobody on before the Rockies ignited for the inning that tied three other occasions for biggest of the season, and was the largest output in any road game this year. The six runs were more than they had scored in any of their previous 11 road games.
"My first couple of at-bats, I was crawling out of my skin to get up there," Giambi said. "By the third one, I calmed down a little bit. It was just nice to contribute tonight and help the ballclub win."
The homer came after one of the Rockies' biggest breaks. Troy Tulowitzki's two-hopper caromed off the third-base bag for a bases-loaded, two-run double. But Giambi, a pinch-hitter and part-time first baseman who hasn't played as much as he might have expected because of Todd Helton's resurgence, followed up Tulowitzki's break with a smash.
Truth be told, Carmona -- who saw his nice beginning of the game descend into a seven-run, nine-hit downer in 4 2/3 innings -- was pitching himself into trouble long before Tulowitzki's fortunate bounce.
With two down, he walked Chris Iannetta. Carlos Gonzalez followed with his third hit on a 3-for-5 night, and Chris Nelson added a single. Then Carmona walked Helton to force in a run, and Tulowitzki and Giambi followed with their hits.
"I just didn't know; it happened so fast," Carmona said in Spanish, with Indians mental skills coordinator Julio Rangel interpreting. "I was trying to get out of the inning and make pitches, but things didn't work out the way I wanted."
The Rockies caught several breaks later.
In the top of the eighth, the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon was at second after a walk and a Chris Iannetta single. Indians catcher Lou Marson threw wildly trying to pick off Iannetta, and Blackmon scored for an 8-6 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Cord Phelps singled in a run to cut the difference to 8-7. Phelps tried to take second on outfielder Blackmon's throw to the infield, where Ty Wigginton cut the ball off and threw to second baseman Chris Nelson. Replays indicated the tag was late, but second-base umpire Sam Holbrook called Phelps out.
With one out in the ninth, the Indians' Grady Sizemore crushed a pitch that looked off the bat like the team's third homer of the night -- after Travis Hafner's three-run shot in the first and Carlos Santana's solo homer in the fourth, both off Rockies starter Juan Nicasio. However, Sizemore's shot died in the night air and landed in the glove of right fielder Seth Smith against the wall.
Huston Street, breathing again, completed his 21st save. He entered the night tied with the Giants' Brian Wilson for the NL lead in saves.
"Yes, 100 percent," Street said when asked if he thought the Sizemore fly ball was leaving the park. "A bad pitch in a bad location. Honestly, sometimes you just get lucky."
The Rockies had some misfortune, also. Santana, playing first base for the Indians, nabbed a Smith line drive to prevent what looked to be a two-run double. Also, Indians reliever Rafael Perez struck out Wigginton with the bases loaded to end the seventh.
So don't expect the Rockies to apologize because some plays went their way.
"Isn't that nice?" Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "But you know something? Up to this point in time in the season, we've been on the other end of that, too, where there were some balls with runners in scoring position that have just been blistered."
Nicasio also lasted just 4 2/3 innings and gave up six runs on seven hits, mainly because he could not change speeds effectively.
After the Rockies grabbed the lead with their big fifth, Nicasio gave up one-out singles to Sizemore and Michael Brantley, struck out Asdrubal Cabrera but then walked Hafner.
Tracy switched to Rex Brothers, who yielded a two-run Shin-Soo Choo single and a Santana single, but worked Orlando Cabrera into a lineout to escape the inning. Matt Lindstrom gave up one hit but forced a Sizemore double-play grounder to escape the sixth, Matt Reynolds struck out two against one hit in 1 1/3 innings, and Rafael Betancourt gave up the eighth-inning run but still handed Street a lead.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.