By Thomas Harding and George Von Benko
PITTSBURGH -- The National League Wild Card-leading Pirates never got to left-hander Jorge De La Rosa -- only home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson did -- as they dropped a 5-0 decision to the Rockies on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park in front of 36,271.
De La Rosa (8-6) pitched six-plus scoreless innings, struck out seven and gave up four hits. Nelson ejected De La Rosa, while manager Walt Weiss was removing him after 93 pitches, for protesting his only walk -- a four-pitch job to Francisco Cervelli to put two on in the seventh.
"I got crazy and I lost my control," said De La Rosa, smiling sheepishly. "I started screaming to the umpire and he tossed me. I thought I threw strikes, but you can't do those things. The umpires are human and they are going to miss some pitches. You can't react like that." More >
De La Rosa -- who is 6-4 with a 3.22 ERA in 12 road starts -- was the main reason the Pirates fell for just the second time in the last nine games and the fourth time in the last 18. Pittsburgh also lost a game in the NL Central race, falling to 4 1/2 behind the Cardinals, who won in San Francisco.
Nolan Arenado's fourth-inning RBI double, followed by Ben Paulsen's two-run triple, were the biggest of the Rockies' six hits in six innings against Pirates starter Charlie Morton (8-6). The Rockies avoided being swept in the three-game series and ended the road trip 3-3 -- their first non-losing trip since going 5-1 at Philadelphia and Cincinnati from May 25-31.
"You don't go out there with the expectation that every time you make a good pitch you're going to get an out," Morton said. "That's just not the way the game works, but it's frustrating when you give up four hits on pitches when you make good pitches."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Morton lapses: After cruising through the first three innings, Morton hit a big bump in the road in the fourth inning, as he was tagged for back-to-back singles, an RBI double and a two-run triple. It could have been worse if shortstop Jordy Mercer had not made a leaping grab of a Daniel Descalso line drive. Morton also committed a throwing error with two outs in the sixth inning allowing two unearned runs to score.
"I didn't realize how much time I had," Morton said of the errant throw. "I had no idea, my head is down. I went after the ball and managed to throw it over the head of a guy that's 8 feet tall."
Getting him going: Arenado's eighth-inning single Saturday night ended an 0-for-15 skid. Rockies manager Walt Weiss said before Sunday's game that all Arenado may need is one at-bat to find his form. That may be the case. He drove in the Rockies' first run Sunday on a fourth-inning double.
Brief opening: When Carlos Gonzalez dropped a lazy fly ball from Starling Marte with two outs in the eighth inning, it got the home crowd revved up. After Marte hustled to second base on the error, Jairo Diaz came on for the Rockies and quieted the crowd, inducing Andrew McCutchen to fly out to left.
Give me an 'O': In the series opener Friday night, a tie game turned into a Rockies loss when righty reliever Scott Oberg gave up two walks and two runs. On Sunday, after De La Rosa left angrily with runners at first and second, Oberg fanned pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez, retired Josh Harrison on a deep throw from Descalso at short, and struck out Mercer.
"I'm just trying to enjoy the process and learn every time I go out there -- learn from the good ones and learn from the bad ones," said Oberg, a rookie who was injured at the Double-A level last year and has found himself in the Majors most of this year. "It means a lot to anybody when the manager has got a lot of confidence in you."
"Walt puts me in the five-hole and that's one of the best spots, especially in our lineup, for big spots and big situations. It shows the confidence he has in me. When I first got called up, Nolan was hitting in the five-hole, and that's when he was doing all his damage." -- Paulsen, who was 7-for-19 (.368) with a double, a triple, a home run and four RBIs on the road trip.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The loss was just the Pirates' fifth in 26 games against NL West teams this season.
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: Right-hander Chad Bettis, who held the Braves to one run and five hits in five innings Tuesday -- his return from an elbow injury -- will start against the D-backs at Coors Field on Monday at 6:40 p.m. MT.
Pirates: The Pirates have an off-day on Monday and will open a three-game series in Milwaukee on Tuesday night (8:10 ET). Right-hander Gerrit Cole (15-7) will toe the rubber for the Bucs. Cole has been charged with two or fewer earned runs in 19 of his 26 starts. More >