As bad as its been, it's been a confounding second half, as young Rockies position players have shown what it takes to win at the plate. Colorado scored seven runs on 16 hits, their fourth double digit hit game in a row, but with their problems on the hill, they can't find enough hits and runs to put a win together.
"It's another great effort," manager Jim Tracy said. "Unfortunately in the eighth inning, we did not get the people out that we needed to get out. We got hurt. We [faced] guys that we have the capability of getting out, but they got big hits for them. That's pretty much what it all boils down to."
Rex Brothers and Matt Belisle bore the brunt of the uncharacteristic eighth-inning meltdown. Brothers gave up a leadoff bloop single to pinch-hitter John McDonald that would come around as the tying run, and Belisle struck out three, but mixed in three hits and three runs, all coming on a three-run homer off the bat of Aaron Hill.
"We threw [Hill] a couple of great breaking balls with two strikes, and the fastball that he hit, that's his pitch," Tracy said. "We needed the ball to be down, but the ball unfortunately was up mid-thigh to the belt. That's [his] nitro-zone."
Rockies starter Jeff Francis started strong, needing just 10 pitches to get through the first inning and retiring the first four batters he faced. He lapsed in the second, allowing three hits and a hit batsmen all in succession, as the D-backs staged a two-run rally to take the early lead.
"I hit a guy, a couple singles, it turns into two runs," Francis said. "It wasn't terrible, but I had a long inning, and that kept me from going any deeper."
Francis allowed a two-out infield single in the third and a one-out double to left in the fourth, stranding both runners to keep his run tally at two. He hit the Rockies 75-pitch limit after four frames, and manager Jim Tracy went to his 'pen for the fifth.
"I honestly felt like I hadn't thrown that much, but the numbers don't lie," Francis said, noting he felt he could have gone another inning. "I was surprised [to come out], but that's me not following the numbers."
Adam Ottavino struggled in an inning of relief, striking out one then yielding singles to Hill and Justin Upton. He walked the bases loaded, struck out Kubel, then walked in a run before getting Ransom swinging to end the inning.
Colorado answered with a three-run rookie-powered rally in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. Pinch-hitter Matt McBride led off with a single up the middle, and the Rockies followed with three straight singles from Josh Rutledge, Charlie Blackmon and Jordan Pacheco. Wilin Rosario added an RBI double for his second of three hits, his fourth consecutive three-hit outing.
"We did a great job getting back into the game," Tracy said. "Seven runs in 16 hits, that's a lot of runs from a lot of young people. They're doing everything they can possibly do."
The Rockies took the lead in the sixth when DJ LeMahieu doubled to right and Blackmon plated him with a single to center.
Rookie Rob Scahill pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings before turning the ball over to the back of the bullpen with a lead.
The D-backs got to the reliable Belisle for the decisive runs in the eighth as Hill worked a two-out, eight-pitch at-bat before he lifted the go-ahead three-run homer into left.
"He threw some good pitches and I was just able to fortunately foul it off until I was able to get a pitch to hit," Hill said. "You always want those long at-bats, especially in those late innings, to produce a little bit and it ended up working out.
The Rockies have had plenty of positives from a core of productive young players, including six rookie starters with 12 hits Sunday, a pinch-hitting rookie who delivered for the second day in a row, and a rookie reliever who put up the only goose egg among the first six of seven pitches used in the game.
But they're increasingly up against the clock as they try to put some positives up before the season ends.
"It matters," Francis said of finishing strong. "We don't like losing one game, but 100 is that number that really stinks. It's important as competitors. We're doing some things really well. We're scoring a lot of runs. But it's not good enough to win. Winning is what we're here to do, and we're not doing that. We need to be better."