DENVER -- Tyler Colvin came through a long stint in Triple-A with his swing and the right attitude. He proved that with a pair of two-run homers in his first start since being called up -- the Rockies' 8-3 victory over the Nationals on Tuesday night.
"It's not like it's my first call-up. I've been here before and I know what to expect," said Colvin, who hit 18 home runs and drove in 72 runs last year, but spent 55 games a Colorado Springs to start this season.
Several Rockies proved to be just fine Tuesday night at Coors Field in front of 33,736 fans.
• A summer cold -- 95-degree first-pitch temperatures notwithstanding -- left pitcher Jhoulys Chacin coughing and hacking. It took him 45 pitches to make it through two innings, and he gave up two runs on Denard Span's double in the second. But he ended up going five innings, throwing 95 pitches and giving up seven hits but no more runs, for his first win since April 19.
• Carlos Gonzalez struck out four times, but his game-breaking three-run homer in the fifth off Nationals starter Dan Haren, after Colvin's first round-tripper earlier in the inning, made it a good night. "He made his hit count tonight," manager Walt Weiss said.
• In case anyone is wondering, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is better than fine. He went 2-for-4 Tuesday to move into the National League lead with a .353 batting average, and had a diving catch of a Ryan Zimmerman line drive to end the seventh with a runner on base. The hysteria over the Rockies' decision to sit him for several games in May when he had groin tightness has died, and the MVP chants can't be far away.
The season will offer plenty more physical, mental and emotional challenges, but so far the Rockies are holding up. They moved into second place in the National League West by improving to 3-2 halfway through a 10-game homestand, which calls for two more games against the Nationals and three against the Phillies.
Colvin had a rough spring, and the Rockies kept infielder Reid Brignac, now with the Yankees, for protection if Tulowitzki suffered an early injury. But that's the past, and since being called up Saturday, Colvin has put whatever disappointment he felt into the ancient past.
Colvin had RBIs off the bench on Saturday and Sunday. With regular right fielder Michael Cuddyer resting sore ribs Tuesday, Colvin truly heralded his presence.
The Rockies trailed, 2-0, when Colvin followed Haren's walk to Wilin Rosario with a homer into the right-field corner on Haren's 2-1 pitch.
Colvin's second homer went the opposite way to left off Drew Storen during a three-run eighth. Ian Desmond had narrowed the difference to 5-3 in the top of the eighth with his RBI double off Wilton Lopez, so Colvin's homer allowed fans to celebrate, rather than gnaw their fingers.
It was Colvin's fourth career multi-homer game. His last was also against the Nats -- last July 6 in Washington. Especially against right-handed pitching, Colvin, who can play all three outfield positions and first base, can work his way into periodic starts as long as his bat stays powerful.
"It's one thing to be here, but I know I can contribute to this team and help this team win," Colvin said. "Games like tonight justify why I'm here."
Just in case anyone is wondering, Gonzalez has struck out 17 times in his last 11 games. But he could be fanning his way to the All-Star Game with his penchant for the big play at the right time.
In Sunday's 8-7, 10-inning victory over the Padres, he made three circus catches and, after going hitless in his first four at-bats, tied the game with a two-run double in the ninth. On Tuesday, he interrupted his strikeouts by taking Haren deep into the left-field bleachers on a 1-1 cutter for three runs to open the fifth-inning lead to 5-2. Gonzalez has four homers in 21 career at-bats against Haren, and leads the Rockies with 18 homers.
"It's not fun to strike out four times, but this game is hard," Gonzalez said. "They've been pitching me tough. But sometimes all I need is one mistake, and he made one mistake."
Haren fell to 0-5 with a 6.29 ERA in his last six starts, all Nats losses.
"I was very focused on location more than anything else, trying to back off velocity wise and just trying to really focus on hitting my spots," Haren said. "It was working for me early, then made a few pitches up in the zone ... it cost me."
The homers allowed Chacin to relax, if not get well.
"The last two days I haven't been feeling good, and today I wasn't feeling good, either," Chacin said, his stuffy nose halting his voice. "After the first two innings, I had a lot of pitches, a lot of runners on base. I said, 'You have to give it all you got and just keep up, try to get the most innings you can.'"
Rockies catcher Rosario kept encouraging Chacin to battle.
"In the fifth, we tied the game, then got up three runs, and I told him, 'Don't give up; we've got this,'" Rosario said.
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.