PITTSBURGH -- Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland demonstrated Wednesday afternoon why two-out walks can get you into trouble.Freeland had a one-run lead in the fourth inning when he missed on a full-count fastball to David Freese. Then Sean Rodriguez homered, and five batters later, Freeland was gone from the eventual 10-2
PITTSBURGH -- Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland demonstrated Wednesday afternoon why two-out walks can get you into trouble.
Freeland had a one-run lead in the fourth inning when he missed on a full-count fastball to David Freese. Then Sean Rodriguez homered, and five batters later, Freeland was gone from the eventual 10-2 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park.
"I didn't feel like it was getting away from me at that point; it just felt like I was giving away a free base after I got two quick outs," Freeland said. "It ended up coming back and biting me…
"A two-out walk right there leads to a two-run home run."
Interestingly, Freeland's outing had survived one two-out walk to Rodriguez in the second. A single followed, but Freeland escaped trouble by forcing a Max Moroff fly ball.
But after the fateful walk in the fourth, not only did Rodriguez homer, but Moroff made the most of another chance with an RBI double to score Elias Diaz, who had singled. Singles to open the fifth by Adam Frazier and Jordy Mercer ended Freeland's day. Freeland allowed five runs on six hits and two walks in four innings.
Freeland (0-3) is capable of buzz-sawing a lineup. But on other occasions, his efficiency is lacking. On Wednesday, he threw 91 pitches (56 strikes) and recorded just 12 outs and faced 20 batters. In his four starts, Freeland has walked five with two out. Those have led to four runs, including the three that scored behind the walk to Freese on Wednesday.
"It's a lesson that he's learning as we go, that the pitch efficiency factor is important," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Throw your strikes, get ahead, put them away, keep pounding the strike zone. Kyle will learn this."
The game completed the five-game suspension of star third baseman Nolan Arenado for his role in last Wednesday's fight against the Padres. The Rockies won three -- mainly because the pitching helped a lineup that has generally been inconsistent. But that didn't happen Wednesday.
Chris Iannetta delivered his second homer of the season, a solo shot to dead center in the third off Pirates starter Chad Kuhl (2-1). But Kuhl controlled the Rockies for six innings with four strikeouts. Kuhl gave up six hits, three walks and a hit batter, but Colorado could not take advantage.
The Rockies return to Coors Field on Friday against the Cubs having won six of their past eight games -- going 5-2 on a road trip that saw rain in Washington and snowy conditions the first two nights in Pittsburgh.
"It was a good road trip through some harsh conditions, and our guys really showed some grit and really pulled out some great wins," Black said.
But the lineup could be facing more questions.
Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez made a diving five-star catch (according to Statcast™) on fourth-inning leadoff hitter Starling Marte's liner, but he was replaced by Gerardo Parra after straining his right hamstring.
Parra -- who doubled in the eighth after replacing Gonzalez -- is appealing a four-game suspension stemming from the same altercation that led to Arenado's suspension. Parra's ban could begin as early as Friday.
The Rockies have an 11-9 record despite batting .214 and fashioning a .285 on-base percentage -- both National League lows.
The last two starts -- losses to the Padres and Nationals -- have been frustrating for Rockies righty Jon Gray (1-3, 6.23 ERA), who will open a three-game set at Coors Field against the Cubs and righty Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 3.71) on Friday at 6:40 p.m. MT. Colorado's outfield may look different with CarGo in limbo with a strained hamstring and Parra's pending suspension still unresolved.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.