Rox can't solve nemesis Oswalt, fall to Rangers

Rockies can't solve Oswalt, fall to Rangers

Rox can't solve nemesis Oswalt, fall to Rangers
ARLINGTON -- Rockies rookie pitcher Christian Friedrich received a hard but necessary education, and veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt once again schooled the Rockies' hitters.

It added up to a 4-1 loss to the Rockies, who collected nine hits, but struck out six times and managed one run in 6 2/3 innings against Oswalt, who made his Rangers debut.

A sellout crowd of 46,964 at Rangers Ballpark on Friday night witnessed some usual occurrences.

The victory improved Oswalt (1-0) -- pitching in the Majors for the first time since last Sept. 27 -- to 9-2 with a 1.90 ERA in 13 starts against Colorado.

But the 2012 Rockies don't necessarily need to be facing a longtime nemesis to experience misery. The loss was the 13th in their last 15 games. It dropped them to 2-5 on a three-city road trip and 1-12 in Interlague Play. The Rockies must win one of the next two against the Rangers to avoid becoming the first team to finish with fewer than two Interleague wins in a season.

In times like these, the Rockies are left trying to find a purpose in defeat. The performance of Friedrich (4-4) would count, even though he dropped his third straight start. Friedrich became the first Colorado starter in the four games since the club went to an unusual rotation -- four pitchers under 75-pitch limits -- to last six innings.

Friedrich threw 49 strikes on 73 pitches, struck out four, walked one and gave up seven hits -- but two were two-out home runs, to Adrian Beltre for two first-inning runs immediately after a walk to Josh Hamilton, and to Mike Napoli in the fourth.

"Again, I made a bunch of mistakes," Friedrich said.

Manager Jim Tracy liked Friedrich's work.

"He was efficient most of the night," Tracy said. "You're not going to pitch six innings and do it in less than 75 pitches if you're not efficient, and the efficiency came with his fastball. He threw a lot of strikes with his fastball and he showed you some real good breaking pitches at times."

But some bad breaking pitches hurt him in the first. After the five-pitch walk to Hamilton, Friedrich threw two quick strikes to Beltre but bounced two breaking pitches in front of home plate. But Friedrich threw a 3-2 down-and-away, and Beltre flicked it the opposite way into the right-field stands for his 13th homer.

The other homer, which came after Nelson Cruz had made it 3-0 with an RBI double, was a pitch Friedrich thought was low and outside enough. However, Napoli muscled that to right for his 12th homer.

Those pitches might not have reached the stands in a less hitter-friendly park, but Friedrich can't take solace in that. After all, his home is Coors Field.

"I think I got a little repetitive and predictable," said Friedrich, who was supported by Guillermo Moscoso's two scoreless relief innings. "If I come in on those pitches, I don't knw what's going to happen. But the way I saw those swings, the little bit that I saw on the video, all of them are fully extended.

"I was pitching in this park tonight. I've got to be aware of that. Both of those guys are good hitters down and away, and I've got to be sure to keep them honest on the inside part."

Oswalt's last Major League game before Friday was against the Cardinals in the NL Division Series last season. Teams avoided him in free agency this winter, after noting that back problems forced him to the disabled list twice last year. Oswalt, however, looked as good as new.

Before Dexter Fowler tripled and Marco Scutaro doubled in the seventh for the Rockies' only run, Oswalt left Colorado 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Before the Fowler and Scutaro hits, he worked Jonathan Herrera into a double-play grounder.

Rockies rookie catcher Wilin Rosario had three hits, Chris Nelson had two, and Carlos Gonzalez, whose throw to the plate to cut down Yorvit Torrealba and ended a threat in the second helped Friedrich, doubled. However, Scutaro's was the only big hit.

"He threw a few more offspeed pitches than I remember him throwing," said Jason Giambi, whom Oswalt struck out twice. "I don't know if he's working on it; maybe it's the new Roy Oswalt. But he did a nice job."

Joe Nathan, the last of the Rangers' three relievers, struck out two in the ninth for his 16th save.

Oswalt has pitched for the Astros and Phillies and faced the Rockies often in Coors, yet the results have been consistent.

"I always took it as a challenge pitching against them," Oswalt said. "People say you can't pitch in Colorado, the ball flies out of there. They said the same thing in Houston ... and Philadelphia. I took it as a challenge. My dad once told me, if they hit it on the ground, it won't go out of the park."

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.