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Blackmon gets 1,000th hit; Bettis roughed up

Right-hander allows nine runs in 4 2/3 innings in return from DL
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Once the Pirates' Jordy Mercer swatted a three-run, fourth-inning homer off righty Chad Bettis -- ineffective in his first big league game in five weeks -- the Rockies were forced to turn to the big picture in Tuesday night's 10-2 loss at Coors Field.

On a windy night when the temperature dropped some 15 degrees between first pitch and the middle innings, the Rockies let some pitchers take on some water in hopes they will sail later. The Rockies entered the night two games back of the D-backs in the National League West, and endured just their third loss in their last 16 home games.

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DENVER -- Once the Pirates' Jordy Mercer swatted a three-run, fourth-inning homer off righty Chad Bettis -- ineffective in his first big league game in five weeks -- the Rockies were forced to turn to the big picture in Tuesday night's 10-2 loss at Coors Field.

On a windy night when the temperature dropped some 15 degrees between first pitch and the middle innings, the Rockies let some pitchers take on some water in hopes they will sail later. The Rockies entered the night two games back of the D-backs in the National League West, and endured just their third loss in their last 16 home games.

View Full Game Coverage

The game became lopsided quickly while Bettis (5-2), who returned from a blister on his right middle finger, struggled through 70 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, and gave up nine runs and eight hits. Also, relievers Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw each received work to try to overcome difficult patches.

Bettis and Pirates starter Jameson Taillon each survived bouts with testicular cancer last season, and each dealt with blisters this season. The game was much better for Taillon (9-8), who scattered 10 hits while throwing his second complete game of the season and of his career. Taillon struck out just three, but became the only National League pitcher with multiple complete games this season.

Video: PIT@COL: Bettis, Taillon share survivor bond

Additionally, it was the first complete game at Coors since the Rockies' Jon Gray did it on Sept. 17, 2016, against the Padres. It was the first nine-inning complete game by a visiting pitcher at Coors since the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw blanked the Rockies, 8-0, on July 2, 2013.

"He got all his pitches working and we weren't able to score a bunch of runs on him," said Carlos Gonzalez, who drove in the Rockies' only runs on his two-run double in the sixth. "And he went the distance."

Mercer's sixth homer of the season made it 5-0. It didn't get better for Bettis, who also gave up a first-inning homer to Starling Marte. The outing deteriorated after a walk to Gregory Polanco -- after an 0-2 count -- to open the fourth inning. Francisco Cervelli also walked during the four-run inning that included Mercer's homer.

Video: PIT@COL: Mercer belts a 3-run homer to center field

"I was really upset about those two walks in the fourth and the home run to Mercer," Bettis said. "Really, just those three at-bats there, I didn't execute the pitches I wanted to there. I have to learn from it and get better."

The Rockies hope Bettis, who had a 3.20 ERA before the blister problems hit in May, returns to being a rotation leader. With righty Antonio Senzatela on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation until at least Aug. 15, Bettis' turn figures to come up again as long as he is healthy between starts.

Video: PIT@COL: Bettis K's fellow cancer survivor Taillon

Bettis gave up four hits in Pittsburgh's five-run fifth.

"At that point [going into the fifth] it was 5-0, the game was not even halfway over yet, and his pitch count was down," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He threw a mistake pitch to Mercer -- that was a back-breaker, no doubt. We have a chance to come back in that game."

But when it got away, it was a chance for work for McGee and Shaw, both of whom have struggled in the first season of their three-year, $27 million contracts. Results were mixed.

McGee has found consistent velocity recently, but key pitches are an issue. He worked to 2-2 against Josh Harrison, who extended the at-bat to seven pitches before lifting a homer to left field. McGee struck out one in a scoreless sixth, but has given up runs in three of his last four appearances.

"Even though Jake gave up the home run to Harrison, I thought the fastball had some life to it -- I saw some 93's, 95's, 97's," Black said.

Shaw struck out one and gave up a hit in the scoreless seventh, and has been scoreless in six of his last eight outings. Shaw is vying to be included with what has been a mostly solid right-handed lead-protection group -- Scott Oberg, Seunghwan Oh, Adam Ottavino and closer Wade Davis.

"Bryan had a pretty efficient inning … I thought Bryan made some good pitches," Black said.

Video: PIT@COL: Taillon, Bettis on emotional matchup

BLACKMON REACHES MILESTONE
With a single into left field in the sixth inning, Blackmon became the seventh Rockies player to reach 1,000 career hits on Tuesday night.

Pirates catcher Cervelli held up the game for a few seconds as the 31,000 at Coors Field gave Blackmon a standing ovation.

"That was really neat," Blackmon said. "I really enjoyed it. I wish the circumstances of the game had been a little different, but it's nice to see Denver so supportive."

Video: PIT@COL: Blackmon rips single for 1,000th career hit

While acknowledging that 1,000 hits is "pretty good," Blackmon was quick to move forward and not dwell on the accomplishment.

"I'm very grateful to be on the field and have the opportunity to get a bunch of hits, and I'm very thankful for that," he said. "But I really want to get a bunch more."

Video: PIT@COL: Blackmon on 1,000th career hit in 10-2 loss

Blackmon had been in an August slump -- 1-for-23 since the beginning of the month after his third-inning strikeout -- and had a day off in Monday's 2-0 win. But his milestone hit sparked the Rockies to a two-run inning, cutting into their deficit. DJ LeMahieu followed Blackmon with a single, and Gonzalez brought them both home -- LeMahieu on Blackmon's heels -- with a double. Blackmon went 2-for-4 on Tuesday night.

Video: PIT@COL: CarGo drives a 2-run double to right-center

SOUND SMART
Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta entered with a 20 at-bat hitless streak. It was tied with teammate and fellow catcher Tom Murphy (sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday) for the fourth-longest in the Majors among non-pitchers. But Iannetta ended it with a single to left field to lead off the second inning.

UP NEXT
Right-handed pitcher German Marquez (9-8, 4.70 ERA) will face newly acquired Pirates right-hander Chris Archer (3-5, 4.49) at 1:10 p.m. MT Wednesday. Marquez has gone seven innings in his last two starts, and he is 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA in his last six starts since June 30. Marquez has struggled at home this season (4-5, 6.63 ERA), but has made quality starts in his last two home starts -- 2-0 and a 2.63 ERA.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Chad Bettis