Rox start fast, but fail to finish in loss to Bucs

Rox start fast, but fail to finish in loss to Bucs

Rox start fast, but fail to finish in loss to Bucs
DENVER -- Jeremy Guthrie left the dugout, headed toward the clubhouse, and disgustedly ripped apart the white button-up jersey with the purple pinstripes -- the Rockies' primary home uniform. Home hasn't been good to him.

Guthrie gave up two home runs Wednesday afternoon to lift his season total to a National League-leading 21 -- all but seven at Coors Field -- as he blew an early lead in the Rockies' 9-6 loss to the Pirates in front of 30,842.

"When I've felt good and done what I think is right, it hasn't been right," said Guthrie, whose home ERA rose to 9.51. "If I've thrown a pitch in a certain spot, it's been hit. When I've thrown what I think is the right pitch, it's usually the wrong pitch. When I've thrown something in the right location, it's typically the wrong location.

"I just try to continue to learn. I know the results don't show that. Anyone watching probably feels what I feel."

Guthrie wasn't the only long-ball victim. Six balls total sailed over the fences, and reliever Matt Reynolds (3-1) yielded two in the fifth, for two runs to Casey McGehee and one run to Rod Barajas to take the loss.

But the ones Guthrie gave up -- a Pedro Alvarez solo shot in the second and a Garrett Jones three-run job in the third -- were particularly problematic, because they allowed the Pirates to erase the Rockies' early offense.

"It gets tough when you do what we did early in the game, the energy and effort we had to build the lead, and within a matter of hitters give it all back," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

The Pirates (51-40) won two of three games and left Coors a half-game behind the National League Central-leading Reds, who were to play host to the D-backs Wednesday night. The Rockies (35-56), who on Friday will begin a six-game road trip at San Diego and Arizona, fell to 15-28 at home and haven't won a series in their park since June 1-3.

Dexter Fowler homered off Pirates starter James McDonald (10-3) to lift his homer total to 12, one more than he managed in 2010 and 2011 combined.

"It's always tough when you lose, homer or not -- we let one get away and got to battle back on Friday," Fowler said.

Marco Scutaro followed Fowler's homer with a walk, Carlos Gonzalez made it 3-0 with his 18th home run.

Without the protection of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who has missed 42 games with a left groin strain and will miss another six weeks or so, teams avoided throwing Gonzalez pitches over the plate and he went homerless for 94 at-bats, since June 15. It was the longest homerless drought of his career, eclipsing 78 at-bats in 2008 as a rookie with the Athletics.

Alvarez's second-inning homer was his second of the series, 18th of the season and sixth in 19 career games against the Rockies. The added two runs in the second and appeared to have McDonald in trouble. However, Guthrie faced nine batters in the third -- six after two were out -- and didn't escape the inning.

McDonald led off the third with a single. Guthrie forced Alex Presley to line to first and Neil Walker, who saw his hitting streak end at 17 games, struck out. But Guthrie walked Andrew McCutchen before Jones' blast to right-center, his 13th homer, cut the difference to 5-4. Luck turned against Guthrie when Jordan Pacheco booted McGehee's grounder to third and Alvarez's roller to short took a strange squirt past shortstop Josh Rutledge's glove. Guthrie compounded it by hitting Barajas.

Former Rockie Clint Barmes, who drew a walk to lead to a big inning in the Pirates' 6-2 victory Tuesday night, singled in two runs to put the Pirates ahead and chase Guthrie, who couldn't wait to get out of his uniform.

"It's just disappointing to have the team play the way we did early and me give it back to the other squad," Guthrie said.

The Rockies obtained Guthrie from the Orioles for pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom last winter in hopes of having a durable, veteran presence. Now Guthrie is available in a trade, either before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline or after clearing waivers after the deadline. Guthrie has pitched well in his last two road starts.

Tracy saw Guthrie beginning to lose his cool after the homer, when he dropped to an unfamiliar sidearm motion on his first pitch to McGehee after Jones' homer.

"Here [at Coors], his breaking ball, when he throws it, doesn't do for him what he wants it to do," Tracy said. "The other thing is, too, whether it's this ballpark or any other ballpark, you can't pitch behind in the count and you can't leave breaking balls over the plate.

"I really don't want to sit here and create a crutch that you can't pitch in this park."

Andrew Brown, recently called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs, singled in his second run of the game. Brown also doubled down the third-base line off the glove of Alvarez in the sixth. Reynolds struck out two of the three batters he faced in the fourth before Jones hit a seeing-eye single and McGehee homered. Reynolds fanned Alvarez, but Barajas -- who came in hitting .140 with no homers against left-handed pitching -- hit his eighth homer of the season.

Gonzalez and Brown came up with two on and two outs in the Rockies' eighth, but Pirates reliever Tony Watson got Gonzalez to hit a weak groundout and fanned Brown.

"Gonzalez is their guy, and he's going well," Watson said. "In a situation like that, you want some contact, and get a ground ball for the double play. I got in on him with the two-seamer, and he hit the ground ball to second."

Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan (26 saves) struck out two in a perfect ninth.

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.