Rockies' late rally stalls at six runs in loss

Rockies' late rally stalls at six runs in loss

Rockies' late rally stalls at six runs in loss
DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin's immediate future with the club is kind of like his pitches during 4 2/3 ugly innings in the Rockies' 7-6 loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday night -- not under his control.

"Whatever they decide -- if you don't pitch good and you don't do your job, they're going to make a decision," Chacin said.

Manager Jim Tracy will play a big hand in whether Chacin's next start is with the Rockies or at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and he said he would "sleep on it ... but you can't go out there and pitch like that."

Even though the Rockies have to make a decision on Chacin (0-3, 7.03 ERA in five starts), whom they hoped would step into stardom, they're stuck.

Jeremy Guthrie is on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, so Guillermo Moscoso is already up from Colorado Springs. The timing for other Triple-A options isn't ideal. Alex White struggled for Colorado Springs on Tuesday, although his overall numbers are decent. Tyler Chatwood is building his arm strength after having started the year in the Rockies' bullpen. Christian Friedrich just returned from a hamstring injury.

Still, the Rockies nearly sent Tracy to bed a happy man Tuesday.

Chacin (0-3) gave up a career-high seven earned runs on 11 hits and four walks while pitching the Rockies into a 7-0 hole. Dee Gordon opened the game with his first Major League homer, Andre Ethier added a first-inning three-run shot and A.J. Ellis hit a two-run homer in the fifth. But the Rockies nearly completed a dramatic comeback.

Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly (3-0) held the Rockies to four hits and two runs -- on Carlos Gonzalez's sixth-inning two-run homer -- to continue his dominance of the Rockies (9-2, 3.77 ERA during his career). Not only that, but the Rockies fell to 2-5 against lefty starters this season. But Lilly left after six innings with pain in his right side, and the Rockies came back against the Dodgers' bullpen.

"I was thinking about [the side] early, and in the fifth it kept getting a little worse," Lilly said. "I've had this in the past, but minor. I thought it was getting better. I only feel it when I throw. I started the game and felt good, but it crept up on me."

Chris Nelson's RBI double and pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin's two-run homer in the seventh against Josh Lindblom made it 7-5, and Troy Tulowitzki tripled and scored on Todd Helton's sacrifice fly to deep left against Kenley Jansen in the eighth to reduce the difference to one.

But with the potential tying run at second in the ninth, Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis ranged to the middle to backhand Marco Scutaro's grounder and save a run. Dodgers closer Javy Guerra then ended the ninth by striking out Gonzalez with the potential tying run at third base for his eighth save.

On one hand, the Rockies are proving resilient.

"We know what type of competitive ballclub that we have," Tracy said.

Tuesday was shades of Sunday, when Helton's pinch-hit grand slam in the eighth led to extra innings and Gonzalez homered to tie the game in the 10th. But that game, which began with Jamie Moyer giving up three early runs, and four in five innings, resulted in a loss. And Tuesday's performance by Chacin was worse.

"Starting pitching tonight was awful," Tracy said.

It's part of a pattern. Chacin gave up four runs and walked five in four innings in a loss to the Giants in the home opener, unraveled after Gonzalez lost two balls in the sun in the fifth inning in Pittsburgh in his last start, and never found his location Tuesday.

After starting last season hot, Chacin went 3-10 with a 4.58 ERA in 16 starts from June 27 to the end of the season. Just before Spring Training, general manager Dan O'Dowd questioned Chacin's conditioning program in Venezuela. During camp, Tracy didn't discuss the issue publicly, but challenged Chacin to work toward the fastball command that the Rockies believed separated him from other young star pitchers in the National League West.

Now, Chacin's changeup and breaking pitches, which were assets from the day he stepped into the Majors, have disappeared along with his fastball. In bullpen sessions, Chacin has tried not to spin so dramatically away from the plate at the start of his windup. After Tuesday, he seemed out of mechanical answers.

"I'm not going to worry about mechanics or fastball command," Chacin said. "I'm just going to worry, 'Get this guy out and get the next guy out.'"

Tracy had cause to remove Chacin after Ellis' RBI double in the third made it 5-0, but he had to preserve the bullpen. After Chacin exited, having thrown 112 pitches -- 63 for strikes -- the Rockies received scoreless work from Josh Roenicke for 2 1/3 innings, Matt Belisle for two-thirds of an inning and Matt Reynolds for 1 1/3 innings.

"I really don't have adjectives to describe the job Roenicke, Belisle and Reynolds did," Tracy said.

Gonzalez has five home runs and 20 RBIs this season. He has 11 RBIs this homestand, but the Rockies are 2-3.

"It's simple," Gonzalez said. "We need to hold the other team as a starting pitcher. I have faith that they're going to get better. As hitters, we need to hit those lefties and score runs early in the game."

"It's frustrating. What can I say, it's another tough loss?"

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.