"We didn't play a very good game early," said manager Kirk Gibson said, who was ejected along with Cody Ross in the seventh inning. "We made a couple errors, gave up an unearned run, made a couple outs on the bases. We had a shaky start, but Eric's home run definitely lifted us up. We had a lot of pressure on, and we were unable to finish it out."
D-backs right-hander Trevor Cahill gave his club its fourth consecutive quality start, pitching seven innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks -- all without his best pitch working for him.
"I didn't really have any command of the sinker, so I was going to other pitches," Cahill said. "I was kind of working off everything but the sinker, which is usually the opposite of what I do. I just didn't know where I was going. In the bullpen, I was trying to figure out what the ball was doing, and it was sinking a little bit, but it was kind of cutting a little bit instead of running arm-side. I just kind of felt lost for a while."
One of the walks led to the Rockies' first run, an unearned tally in the second inning. After catching Michael Cuddyer looking, Cahill walked Josh Rutledge, who rounded third on Reid Brignac's single to right and got caught in a rundown between third and home. Nieves, starting in place of Miguel Montero behind the plate, made an errant throw to third, allowing Rutledge to cross home safely.
"It was tough. I never felt like there was an easy inning," Cahill said. "I felt like I didn't have any put-away stuff. I got 0-2 on a couple guys, and I just didn't really know what to throw from there."
If Cahill was lost, Arizona's lineup was listless, managing only two hits in six scoreless innings against Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa, erasing its own baserunners each time. A.J. Pollock knocked a two-out single in the third to get the D-backs in the hit column, but was thrown out by Yorvit Torrealba as he tried to steal second, squashing the rally. Martin Prado led off the fourth with a single to center, but was thrown out trying to tag up and advance when Paul Goldschmidt flied to center and Rutledge relayed center fielder Dexter Fowler's throw to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki for a double play.
"When you make outs on the bases, you limit your opportunities when you have guys on base, so it didn't help," Gibson said.
Colorado picked up another pair of runs in the third when Eric Young Jr. tripled to lead off the inning. Fowler was hit by a pitch, then stole second. Carlos Gonzalez plated Young with a grounder to second and Tulowitzki's sacrifice fly to left brought in Fowler for a 3-0 lead.
"A couple productive outs from our two guys in the middle there, which was nice," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "They didn't try to get too big with their swings. They did what they had to do to score the run from third base."
Cahill gave up one more run, a first-pitch home run off the bat of Cuddyer to lead off the sixth.
"They're just playing really good baseball right now," Cahill said of the Rockies, who are tied with Atlanta for the best record in baseball at 13-4. "Everybody knows they can hit, and they're healthy, and their pitchers are doing their job. They're a good team and they're playing hard right now."
Arizona's frustration rose to the surface in the seventh when first Prado and then Ross were called out on strikes to bookend the 1-2-3 inning. Ross flipped his bat high and was immediately ejected by home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild, who'd already heard an earful from Prado.
"To be honest, I was frustrated with myself, with us, the way we've been not swinging the bats the last few games," Ross said. "It's just a lot of frustration. I didn't say anything. I didn't look at him. It was kind of bizarre."
Gibson came out of the dugout and had to restrain his player. He, too, was quickly ejected, the first D-backs ejections this season.
After Chavez' pinch-hit homer got the D-backs on the board in the eighth, they loaded the bases in the ninth with a leadoff double from Pollock, a one-out single from Goldschmidt, and a walk to pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra. Montero grounded to first and drove home a run before closer Rafael Betancourt got Nieves to fly to right for his seventh save of the season.
"It seems like our energy level is a little down," Ross said. "Our concentration level's a little down, collectively, as a group. It doesn't really seem like we have that fire. We need to start from the first pitch and not try to climb back in the seventh, eighth, ninth inning. We need to get on the board first. We're the visiting team. We have the chance to do damage first. When we go down 1-2-3 or have a quick inning, that gives them momentum and they took advantage of that. De La Rosa threw great. He mixed up his pitches. He threw well. So did Trevor. But we came up short."