Despite solid effort, Bettis striving to improve

Despite solid effort, Bettis striving to improve

OAKLAND -- Chad Bettis felt old, nightmarish habits creep in Wednesday on the way to the Rockies' 4-1 loss to the Athletics at O.co Coliseum. But he didn't let the game spiral out of control the way it might have last year. And while that sounds like a for-what-it's-worth statement, it represents progress.

Bettis (4-3) threw 111 pitches in 5 2/3 innings. But despite two leadoff triples and a one-out double, and in the face of seven hits and four walks, the right-hander limited the Athletics to just three runs.

Since being called up from Triple-A Albuquerque, Bettis has made 10 starts -- seven of them Rockies wins -- and has gone at least six innings six times while yielding more than three runs just twice. There were starts of eight and 8 1/3 innings in May, so the capability is there. But considering he is just a year removed from going 0-2 with a 9.12 ERA in 21 bullpen appearances in 2014, he is cognizant of the flip side.

But Bettis fought off his issues passably on Wednesday. He lost command when he became "rotational," with his momentum going toward first base instead of the plate. But he put the Rockies in a position to win had they found their offense -- which they never did in Oakland, where they scored four runs in three games.

"He ended up giving us some length, relatively speaking," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He went about as far as he could go. But he battled throughout."

Bettis, however, wished he wasn't battling himself.

"You don't have your sinker or depth on your pitches, and that's what happens -- you get hit," Bettis said. "It wasn't the start that I wanted to have. I need to be a lot more efficient with my pitches."

The plodding Billy Butler opened the second with a triple to left -- he took advantage of Rafael Ynoa crashing into the wall and ending up crumpled on the warning track. It was Butler's first triple since 2012. But Bettis kept it a one-run inning. The faster Billy Burns tapped a triple to right -- with the defense playing him off the line -- leading off the third. Bettis nearly escaped that jam unscathed, but Josh Reddick singled with two outs for a 2-0 Athletics lead.

"It was a pretty poor-quality pitch to Burns for the triple, definitely not the way to start an inning," Bettis said.

The fifth inning -- when Bettis walked Reddick on four pitches to load the bases and gave up Butler's RBI single with two outs -- was an example of old habits. With his momentum not behind the pitches, Reddick had no incentive to swing, then Bettis had to aim a pitch against Butler.

"It's nice to know that it didn't spin out of control, but it can swing the other way really quickly," Bettis said. "I need to nip this in the bud as quickly as I can, and I think it's going to be a pretty easy adjustment. It's staying on top of the ball and shortening my stride."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.