DENVER -- The Rockies won one the hard way Thursday, building -- then losing -- a seven-run lead before battling back to defeat the Nationals, 11-10, in 11 innings, on Marco Scutaro's walk-off RBI single.
"We made it a lot harder on ourselves than we needed to," manager Jim Tracy said. "They played with grit and determination, as they continue to do. They were turned away a couple times, but we won the ballgame. We split a series with a first-place club."
Colorado came within three outs of the win in regulation before closer Rafael Betancourt hung a breaking ball over the heart of the plate to open the ninth, and Bryce Harper bounced it off the back wall of the Rockies' right-field bullpen for a game-tying solo shot. It was Betancourt's fourth blown save of the season.
Despite getting a man on second with one out in the ninth, the Rockies left him stranded there when Scutaro grounded into a double play, sending the game to extra innings.
"After that happens, you just have to turn the page and concentrate for the next at-bat," Scutaro said. "You can't do anything about the at-bat before. I'd never faced [Nationals reliever Craig Stammen]. I know he has a good fastball. I was trying to go in there aggressive."
In a day of multiple chances, Scutaro got his second chance in the 11th. Jonathan Herrera doubled with one out, putting him back in scoring position, as he'd been in the ninth. After pinch-hitter Jason Giambi drew a walk and Dexter Fowler skied a fly to the center-field warning track, advancing Herrera to third, Scutaro worked the count full against Stammen then dropped the game-winning hit into the right-center-field gap.
"He threw the sinker down [in the first at-bat], but on the one I hit, he left it a little up," Scutaro said. "As soon as I hit it, I looked at where the center fielder and right fielder were playing, and I figured I had a pretty good chance."
The Rockies jumped out to a five-run lead in the first inning, and added a pair in the second to stake out a seven-run cushion. Their attack featured a multihit day from five of the first six batters in the lineup, with Tyler Colvin's career-best four hits and five RBIs leading the charge.
"I'm just staying calm and having confidence in myself," Colvin said. "I'm seeing the ball pretty well. I'm staying in a position to hit and keeping things easy, and not missing the balls I should hit."
Colvin's three-run homer in the first inning set the stage for the Rockies' offensive outburst, and the right fielder finished a double shy of the cycle, proceeding to single to right in the second, triple to center in the fourth, and single up the middle in the sixth.
"Once I got to third base [Ryan] Zimmerman said, 'Just go ahead and hit the double already,'" Colvin said as he extended a season-long five-game hitting streak. The Rockies' fourth outfielder improved to .309 in 55 games, making it hard for Tracy to keep him out of the lineup.
Fowler, Scutaro, Carlos Gonzalez and Chris Nelson each added three hits for the Rockies, who needed all the offense they could muster as starting pitcher Josh Outman couldn't protect a big lead for the second start in a row. He came out of the gate strong, retiring the first six batters he faced without letting a ball out of the infield. He struggled from the start of the third inning, however, walking the leadoff hitter before allowing five hits, including a three-run homer over the center-field fence off the bat of Michael Morse.
"The leadoff walk set the table for the whole inning," Outman said. "In that situation, with a seven-run lead, I have to go right after that guy. That's been my issue all year. Even games like this one and Texas, when I was in control early [but gave up five runs after leading 11-0], it's that big inning that I haven't had any luck being able to limit the damage at all."
The Rockies' bullpen took over in the fourth frame, with Josh Roenicke going three innings and losing the lead in a four-run fifth despite only allowing one earned run. The inning turned on a one-out, one-on grounder to Nelson at third, who threw wildly to second, throwing away the chance for an inning-ending double play. Adam LaRoche followed with a sacrifice fly to center, and Ian Desmond launched a three-run homer into the right-field bullpen to tie the game at 9.
The Rockies reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Roenicke was hit by a pitch to open the inning, Fowler doubled him to third, and Scutaro walked to load the bases for Gonzalez, who grounded into a double play, sending Roenicke home with the go-ahead run -- a lead that would hold up until the top of the ninth when Harper -- a 19-year-old rookie center fielder -- touched Betancourt for his eighth homer of the season.
"They've been pitching me out, out, out, up, out, out," Harper said. "They didn't throw me one strike all series. They got some questionable calls from the umps, I thought, but, whatever, I don't care. I got a pitch off the plate, drove it, and it's a 10-10 ballgame."
With Betancourt removed for a bunting Jordan Pacheco in the bottom of the ninth, it fell to Adam Ottavino to hold the National League's winningest team scoreless for two extra innings. He struck out five of the seven batters he faced, using a well-located fastball to induce hitters to chase up in the zone, and a good slider breaking low.
"I think I pinch better when the game's on the line," Ottavino said. "I just wanted to come in and throw up a zero. I knew we would score eventually."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.