Pitching woes, missed chances hurt Rockies

Pitching woes, missed chances hurt Rockies

Pitching woes, missed chances hurt Rockies
ST. LOUIS -- Left-hander Josh Outman wasn't laughing about throwing more balls than strikes and walking five while lasting just three innings in a 9-3 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Monday night.

"It's just been a comedy of mistakes on my part, falling behind in counts and everything else," Outman said. "You see what good-hitting teams do in that scenario."

In Outman's last six starts -- four under the Rockies' new four-starter system, which is supposed to demand that pitchers be efficient with a limit of around 75 pitches -- he has posted a 10.17 ERA. On Monday he threw strikes on 34 of his 70 pitches. The Cardinals (42-38), in a tight race with the Pirates and Reds in the National League Central, didn't hit him much, but one of the hits was Matt Holliday's solo shot in the second inning.

A native of St. Louis, Outman did not give the home folks much to cheer.

Monday was another bitter turn in a difficult season. Outman, obtained in an offseason trade with the Athletics, came down with food poisoning late in Spring Training and strained his right oblique from the force of vomiting, and he didn't make his first appearance until May 12. He pitched well in a lefty specialist role but has struggled to find the strike zone as a starter.

"You never try to walk guys, and throughout my career I haven't had this much issue with command," he said. "My mind-set is still the same -- to attack the strike zone with tough hitters.

"I don't think it's [mental]. I think it's physical. It's something I'm going to have to work on."

Outman was not alone in his struggles, as the Rockies (30-49) lost for the 18th time in 24 games and are now in last place in the NL West.

In just 2 1/3 innings, rookie reliever Tyler Chatwood (1-1) gave up four runs, and the two walks he allowed played a big factor in the runs scored against him. It was his second rough outing since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs last week.

In all, Rockies pitchers gave up eight walks -- not to mention two home runs to Allen Craig and the one to Holliday.

Tyler Colvin hit his ninth homer of the season and catcher Wilin Rosario hit his 14th, tops among rookies in the Majors. The Rockies also loaded the bases twice, in the fifth and eighth innings, but both rallies were snuffed out.

But the poor pitching made any thought of victory unrealistic.

"We didn't pitch at all tonight," manager Jim Tracy said. "When you walk eight guys, you don't afford yourself much of a chance to win a Major League game."

Outman's struggles have put him in danger of losing his rotation spot.

Fellow lefties Jeff Francis, Christian Friedrich and Drew Pomeranz are coming off strong outings the last time through. On Monday, Tracy announced that righty Jeremy Guthrie is making the start on Wednesday against the Cardinals. This leaves the club in position to drop Outman.

"We'll take a look at it; we have to look at this stuff every single day," Tracy said. "But Tyler wasn't very efficient, either. Rather than me sit here and bear down on any one guy, suffice it to say we did not pitch well through the first five innings of the game."

Colvin's homer off Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse (8-2) tied the score at 2 in the top of the fourth. Chatwood pitched a scoreless bottom of the fourth before walks hurt him the next two frames.

Chatwood walked Jon Jay to open the fifth. Jay took third on Holliday's single and scored on Carlos Beltran's infield grounder, just before Craig parked his 12th homer of the season for a three-run Cards lead.

Chatwood's one-out walk to Rafael Furcal in the sixth led to another run. Jay doubled to move Furcal to third, and Holliday drove in his second run of the game on a sacrifice fly off Adam Ottavino, who gave up two runs, both unearned, in 1 1/3 innings.

Craig added a solo homer off Matt Reynolds in the eighth. He now has 13 homers and 43 RBIs in 40 games.

"I try to take every at-bat seriously, and I don't think about the RBI stuff," Craig said.

Lohse held the Rockies to two runs and nine hits in 7 1/3 innings thanks to the Cardinals' two escapes from bases-loaded situations. Lohse induced a Michael Cuddyer fly ball to center with two out in the fifth. Lohse left after the Rockies loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but reliever Mitchell Boggs caught Dexter Fowler's hard bouncer to the mound and threw home to begin a double play.

All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.