Rockies encouraged by De La Rosa's upswing

Lefty turns in fourth straight solid start since return to rotation

Rockies encouraged by De La Rosa's upswing

LOS ANGELES -- Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa couldn't lift the Rockies to victory Friday night -- that was impossible on a night his team managed just three hits in a 5-0 loss to the Dodgers. But it was nonetheless a performance the Rockies have come to appreciate.

In his fourth straight solid start since returning to the rotation, De La Rosa held the Dodgers to two runs on five hits in a season-high seven innings.

"I think I threw good -- the only hard hit was by [Dodgers rookie Corey] Seager, right in the middle, but the other ones were ground balls. … But we lost," De La Rosa said.

De La Rosa struggled to an 11.41 ERA in his first six starts -- a factor that threw the Rockies into crisis mode. Aged 35 and at the end of a two-year, $25 million contract, he was supposed to be the leader of a staff of far less-accomplished pitchers. But since eliminating a pause in his windup and regaining his control, he has thrived.

It has turned out to be business as usual for De La Rosa, a traditionally slow starter. The struggles used to be limited to April, but extended into May this year. But his 1.96 June ERA in five games (.188 batting average, .278 on-base percentage), including two relief appearances, was his second-best for a month in his career, behind a 1.93 in May 2013.

The Rockies hope Friday, when a leadoff walk to Chase Utley in the fourth led to one run and another scored in the seventh on a balk call -- which De La Rosa disagreed with -- is the beginning of a solid July. He gave up five hits, struck out four and walked four, but generally mitigated damage.

"Georgie did a nice job for us again," manager Walt Weiss said. "He's been throwing the ball really well."

After a passed ball charged to catcher Nick Hundley put runners at second and third in the seventh, plate umpire Will Little called De La Rosa for a balk, saying he didn't pause from the stretch as the rule requires.

De La Rosa raised his hands in disbelief and disgust, and after the game hadn't changed his mind.

"I checked the video and I did come set," he said.

A strong throw to the plate by left fielder Brandon Barnes to erase Yasiel Puig prevented another run. De La Rosa believes he's put himself in position to prevent runs.

"Every time I pitch, I'm throwing the ball much better," De La Rosa said. "Today was a good day, but they scored two runs against me and we lost."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for 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.