Arenado's homer a respite from recent struggles

Rockies third baseman has six of club's 26 strikeouts in two games

Arenado's homer a respite from recent struggles

LOS ANGELES -- With little success over the last two nights, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado wasn't going to make much of his shutout-avoiding solo shot to lead off the ninth inning of a 6-1 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday night.

The homer came after Arenado struck out three times against Dodgers starter Scott Kazmir, who fanned 10 on a night when the Rockies absorbed 14 punchouts. Arenado also struck out three times in Friday night's 5-0 loss to the Dodgers.

"It was just a relief," said Arenado, whose homer was his team-leading 22nd. "It was a good feeling to hit the ball hard. I haven't done a lot of that lately."

Hitting balls at all has been a challenge.

The Rockies have struck out 26 times in two punchless games at Dodger Stadium, which have seen the Rockies total eight hits. It adds a chapter to the team's continuing story of big offensive production at home followed by drought on the road. During a 3-4 homestand that ended Wednesday, the Rockies scored six or more runs in all but one of the games.

Even though the team wasn't at its highest proficiency taking advantage of scoring opportunities, it was easy to point an accusing finger at pitching struggles. But Jorge De La Rosa pitched well Friday to no avail, and the offense was not there Saturday to help Chad Bettis, who gave up four runs in six innings.

It's a tough situation for Arenado to explain.

"I'm a big believer in if a team's swinging the bat well, an off-day [Thursday] can kind of slow you down," Arenado said. "We'd been swinging the bats pretty well. But I'm not blaming it on that off-day, because that off-day was much-needed. But L.A. is not the greatest hitter's park.

"I don't know what it is. You've got to give pitchers credit. Those pitchers have done a really good job against us. We need to have more quality at-bats as a group and definitely myself, and cut the strikeouts down."

After striking out once every 5.6 at-bats last year, Arenado has improved his rate to once per 6.6 at-bats this year. So six strikeouts over two games raises eyebrows, especially since Arenado has appeared in all but one of the Rockies' 80 games.

"I don't see any fatigue," manager Walt Weiss said. "Just keep working. Offensive is very cyclical in this game. We'll come out of it. We're a good offensive club. We'll get it going."

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.