Rusin getting opportunity to prove worth to Rox rotation

Left-hander allows one run over six innings Tuesday vs. Mets

Rusin getting opportunity to prove worth to Rox rotation

NEW YORK -- Left-hander Chris Rusin made a bid Tuesday night to be a part of the Rockies' future.

In one of his best starts of the season, Rusin held the Mets to one run in six innings, but it was not enough in the Rockies' 4-0 loss to the Mets as the bullpen faltered for the second straight night.

Rusin (3-5) turned in his first quality start (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs) since July 20, with five strikeouts and one intentional walk. The only run off him came on Ruben Tejada's two-out single between first and second with two on and two out in the sixth.

"I was able to keep the ball down and keep them off balance, except for that last inning when I left the ball up to Tejada," Rusin said.

Even with the Rockies deep in the National League West basement, the final weeks of the season are big ones for starting pitchers, since the club is always looking for dependable arms.

"Everyone wants to finish strong -- it being the end of the season, the dog months, you want to fight through it," Rusin said. "It's momentum going into next season."

The team's best pitcher, Jorge De La Rosa, is under contract for next season. Two recent first-round picks, Jon Gray and Eddie Butler, and a second-rounder, Chad Bettis, are going to get every chance to develop at the big league level, with the hope that they'll lead the future rotation.

Rusin, a waiver claim from the Cubs at the end of last season, is part of a group of pitchers trying to settle some questions that aren't going away anytime soon.

With righty David Hale out since July 10 with a right groin strain, righty Jordan Lyles out since late May because of left big toe surgery, righty Tyler Chatwood still recovering from last year's Tommy John surgery, and former No. 1 pick, left Tyler Matzek trying to work his way back after a stunning loss of control, Rusin and lefty Yohan Flande, a former Minor League journeyman, are getting regular rotation turns.

Rusin, 28, pitched seven one-run innings at Cincinnati in his first start on May 26, and went seven innings with two runs for his first win against the Marlins two starts later. Since then, there have been six quality starts and some games with hard luck, but no wins.

But performances like Tuesday's, when he controlled the Marlins by mixing speeds and using his cut fastball, coupled with better overall team play could make Rusin a viable option.

"He knows how to pitch, knows how to pitch off the barrel, attack hitters and throw strikes," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss.

Road struggles -- and games like Tuesday, when the offense barely touched Mets power starter Matt Harvey -- are an unfortunate Rockies trend. Since winning four straight -- one at Cincinnati and three at Philadelphia May 27-31 -- the Rockies have won just eight of their last 30 on the road. But the starters have shown improvement lately, giving up three or fewer runs in nine of the last 11 road starts.

"It's good for everybody just to get out there and just pounding the strike zone; that's pretty much all we're trying to do," Rusin said.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for 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.