DENVER (AP) - Jon Gray put his fastball to work early and often to go deep into the game.
Gray matched a season high by pitching seven strong innings, Pat Valaika homered and the Colorado Rockies rode a big early lead to an 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night.
Gray said his game plan was to "just go after the guys and really establish the fastball early, move it in and out, up and down, try to get quick outs."
The approach served Gray (4-2) well. He allowed six hits and struck out four, giving the Rockies a quality start the night after they had to lean on their bullpen when starter Kyle Freeland was forced to leave in the first inning because of a left groin strain.
"The bullpen did a great job (Friday) but they were a little taxed, so for him to go seven innings was huge," Valaika said.
Manager Bud Black added: "That was critical. That was significant that he went seven."
Gerardo Parra added three hits and two RBIs for the Rockies who won for the fourth time in five games.
Daniel Nava homered, tripled and singled for the Phillies, who fell to 0-5 on their eight-game road trip.
Trailing by seven runs, the Phillies got a three-run homer from Nava in the eighth inning off reliever Zac Rosscup, pulling within 8-4.
Pat Neshek finished up, allowing an RBI single by Freddy Galvis in the ninth in his first appearance against his former team since the Rockies acquired him in a July 26 trade.
The Rockies batted around in the first inning and Nick Pivetta (4-7) did himself no favors by walking leadoff man Charlie Blackmon, and then hitting D.J. LeMahieu with a pitch before Nolan Arenado singled to load the bases. Parra followed with another single and Pivetta trailed 2-0 before recording an out.
A fielding error by first baseman Tommy Joseph opened the door to two unearned runs during the Rockies' five-run first which also included a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Lucroy and an RBI single by Valaika.
"I didn't make pitches at all tonight," Pivetta said. "It's clear I left balls in the middle (of the plate). When you're in Colorado and facing a lineup like that, the way they are going right now, it's not going to be good. The only thing I can do is learn from it, go forward from it and try to find that consistency."
Colorado pulled in front 8-0, tacking on three more runs in the third when Valaika hit a two-run homer and Carlos Gonzalez had a sacrifice fly.
Philadelphia's first run didn't come until the fourth on Nick Williams'double-play grounder.
The Phillies loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth but first baseman Mark Reynolds made a diving catch of Galvis' liner to end the threat.
Pivetta allowed eight runs -- six earned -- in 2 2/3 innings.
Mark Leiter Jr. turned in an outstanding relief effort for the Phillies, pitching 4 1/3 innings and striking out a career-high nine. He became the sixth reliever in major league history to register nine strikeouts without allowing a run or walk and the first since Bruce Ruffin did it for the Rockies against the Houston Astros on Sept. 14, 1993. "He pitched like a 10-year veteran tonight," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He put on a clinic for every pitcher in baseball, it was really fun to watch."
Phillies: OF Aaron Altherr was placed on the 10-day disabled list after leaving Friday night's game in the eighth inning with a strained right hamstring. ... OF Cameron Perkins was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to fill his roster spot.
Rockies: Freeland has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with the left groin strain. ... INF-OF Ian Desmond, sidelined with a right calf strain since July 28, did light conditioning work in the field and took swings in the batting cage. The developments are encouraging but there's still no timetable for his return, Black said.
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (8-7, 3.16 ERA) has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last eight starts, going 5-2 in that span.
Rockies: Rookie RHP Jeff Hoffman (6-3, 5.58 ERA) is slated to make his second career start against the Phillies. He beat the Phillies the first time he faced them May 22 at Citizen's Bank Park, going seven innings and allowing one run and three hits.