PITTSBURGH -- The Rockies couldn't regret how they countered Pirates ace pitcher Gerrit Cole on Friday night. They had 12 hits and left Cole without a strikeout for the first time in his Major League career.
The problem for the Rockies was just one of their hits -- Nolan Arenado's Majors-leading 14th home run -- pushed a run across. Add to that a couple of the hardest-hit balls zoomed straight into Pirates' gloves, and the opposing defense was stellar when it needed to be, and the Rockies left with a 2-1 loss.
"We played well; we didn't get the timely hit," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "They had the timely hit."
The Rockies dropped to 1-3 on a road trip against three expected contenders. They went 1-2 against the Cardinals, Friday was the opener with the Pirates, and the Red Sox are next.
In recent days, Weiss has said the Rockies are a different team from the recent past, when bad games or hard luck would create a spiral effect. One reason he likes this club is pitching, and Eddie Butler (two runs, one earned in six innings) provided an increasingly common competitive start.
However, results like Friday's offer their own test.
The loss dropped the Rockies a game below .500 at 20-21. No matter the final record of this road trip, will this be merely a tough road stretch that all teams must endure or a return of the inertia that has tended to grind Rockies' momentum to a halt in seasons past?
Weiss showed no interest in being downcast.
"Sometimes that's the way it goes," Weiss said. "We'd like to have the timely hit every night. I liked our approach tonight, the fact that we put together 12 hits against a really tough arm."
A Rockies team that has a tendency to strike out in big numbers held Cole without a strikeout for the first time in his career, but it couldn't string together a big inning.
Carlos Gonzalez and DJ LeMahieu ended the first and second with line drives straight at fielders to begin double plays. The Rockies loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Pirates first baseman John Jaso fielded Gerardo Parra's grounder and cut down a run at the plate, and LeMahieu grounded out.
"We swung the bat pretty good, hit a lot of balls hard that went for outs and we didn't get that big hit when we needed it," said Blackmon, who lined a Mark Melancon pitch to a sprinting Marte with two on in the ninth to end the game. "When we did, it went right at somebody, it seemed like."
The Rockies' approach was simple.
"We had to zone him up and try to hit his heater and try to lay off his other stuff," Garneau said. "It was a good approach."