Rockies offense in slump heading into break

Gonzalez one of several underperforming recently

Rockies offense in slump heading into break

DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez didn't smile until the cameras came on. But that was as good a time as any to begin the process of putting behind another frustrating Rockies offensive performance -- and his own 0-for-4 -- in a deflating 6-3 loss to the Reds at Coors Field on Thursday afternoon.

"I know what it feels like to be the best player in the game, and the worst player in the game," Gonzalez said. "Right now, I feel like I'm the worst player I the game. But you've got to keep working. You've got to keep fighting. You have to always believe there's another opportunity."

Thursday represented an opportunity missed. The Rockies -- third in the National League West but still in solid Wild Card shape at 50-38 -- had a chance to win a series at home against a Reds team that is 11 games under .500. Instead, the Rockies have lost 12 of 15, and Gonzalez's woes are part of a team-wide offensive downturn.

The next opportunity, a three-game home Interleague set with the struggling White Sox going into the All-Star break, starts Friday.

"I don't think we need to look at the other team," second baseman DJ LeMahieu said. "We need to relax, play our game."

Black on Chatwood, lineup

The struggles began with an eight-game losing streak that, at least during the early part, could be blamed on some bad starts by young pitchers. But poor offense has become the overarching theme. Gonzalez, a three-time All-Star outfielder mired in a .217 nightmare through 72 games -- doesn't have to look in the mirror alone.

In the last 15 games, the Rockies are averaging 3.2 runs per game, and are batting .226 with a .281 on-base percentage and a .308 slugging percentage.

In that span, just two position players are hitting above .300 -- rookie Raimel Tapia at .320 (17-for-53) and LeMahieu at .333 (14-for-42).

"Overall, we have a number of guys, whether they're not seeing the ball, their timing is off, they're not in a good spot," Rockies manager Bud Black said.

Third baseman Nolan Arenado, who hit for the cycle on June 18 and had a game-winning triple on June 20 in the last two games before the skid, has batted .278 but has just two extra-base hits during the team's slump. Black rested Arenado on Thursday. Standout leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon is at .265 during the team-wide slump.

"We're going to keep working hard, swing at the right pitches, get our swings right, and get on base," catcher Tony Wolters said.

The poor offense puts extra pressure on the pitching. On Thursday, Tyler Chatwood gave up eight hits and walked four in six innings, but held the Reds to three runs. The Reds increased their lead with three runs, including a homer, off reliever Scott Oberg for a 6-2 advantage in the eighth. But the Rockies' lack of hitting production made the deficit insurmountable.

On April 29, the Rockies overcame a five-run deficit in the final three innings to beat the D-backs, 7-6, in Phoenix. But that's their only comeback of greater than four runs.

In April, the offense underperformed but stellar pitching powered the strong start. But the offense came around and was a key to the club pushing to 21 games above .500 before the skid.

"To see credible success, you know it's there," Blackmon said. "If you can do it once, you can repeat it. We've just got to figure out how to repeat it. It's just a matter of time before we get it figured out."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.