De La Rosa gave up four runs -- three in the third inning before finding a groove that saw him retire 10 straight -- on six hits, with three strikeouts, two walks and a hit batsman. De La Rosa also forced nine groundouts.
In his first two Triple-A starts, De La Rosa lasted just 7 2/3 innings. Before Thursday's game, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he was looking for "efficiency -- we need length, we need him to get a little bit deeper in the games, force some swings. That's the most important thing."
Before righty Jon Gray's 3 1/3-inning, nine-run struggle in the Rockies' 13-7 loss to the Cardinals, the rotation has been solid in De La Rosa's absence. However, the staff as a whole likely will have an opening. Righty long reliever Christian Bergman sustained a left oblique injury during the game against the Cardinals.
De La Rosa isn't the only Rockies pitcher working toward a return. Righty Jason Motte, who hasn't pitched in the Majors this season because of a right shoulder strain, threw a scoreless inning on Thursday for Albuquerque in his fourth injury rehab game. It's possible that he will pitch again Friday, so the Rockies can see how he performs in consecutive games.
A closer with the Cardinals before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, Motte made 57 appearances for the Cubs last season and signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Rockies over the offseason.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.