Rockies' late surge isn't enough to solve Royals
Stubbs hits two-run jack after Chacin labors in decisive second frame
KANSAS CITY -- All of a sudden, the Rockies' offense is ailing and manager Walt Weiss is hopeful that a big dose of Coors Field will be the cure.
A 2-5 road trip ended with a whimper on Wednesday afternoon with a 3-2 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City got a three-run double from Mike Moustakas, who entered batting .147, in the second inning and made that stand up as the Royals' pitching stymied the Rockies for the second day in a row. Other than Drew Stubbs' two-run homer in the seventh, the Rockies' only extra-base hit in the two-game set was Nolan Arenado's wind-blown popup that fell beyond the reach of second baseman Pedro Ciriaco for a double.
Kansas City's pitching racked up 23 strikeouts and allowed only three walks in the series. And it didn't help Colorado's cause when torrid-hitting Troy Tulowitzki was ejected for arguing a called third strike in the fourth inning. Throw in the baserunning blunder of Charlie Culberson being picked off third trailing by three in the sixth inning and it all added up to a day of frustration for the visitors.
"We've hit a little bump in the road here offensively," Weiss said. "We have to go back home and get it going again."
The Rockies were at least able to put some pressure on the Royals late thanks to Stubbs' two-run homer that made it 3-2 in the seventh. Stubbs had a chance for more dramatics in the ninth, but struck out against closer Greg Holland with two men on base.
"As well as we've been swinging the bats, you can't sustain that for an entire season," Stubbs said. "You are going to go through ebbs and flows. It was inevitable at some point and we ran into some pretty good arms on this road trip."
Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin was hit hard in the second inning, allowing three runs on five ringing hits. Although he managed to keep the Royals off the scoreboard thereafter, the damage had been done.
"He had to really battle with the stuff he had today," Weiss said. "He ended up getting through six innings, but it was a grind for him."
The Rockies had to play from the fourth inning on without Tulowitzki, who thought he had drawn a one-out walk on a 3-2 pitch. Home-plate umpire Dan Bellino called him out and, after a brief argument, Tulowitzki went back to the dugout. But with Carlos Gonzalez at the plate, Bellino heard Tulowitzki say something from the dugout and issued the ejection.
"My argument was that I felt it was over once Tulo went back to the dugout," Weiss said. "But [Bellino] heard him say something and that's when he threw him out."
With the way Colorado was swinging the bats in this series, the last thing Weiss wanted to see was his .394 hitter heading for the tunnel and back to the clubhouse. Still, Stubbs gave the Rockies some life with his two-run homer off Royals starter Jason Vargas.
When Stubbs came up again in the ninth, there were men at first and third with two down. He chased a Holland slider in the dirt for strike two and then was called out on another slider. Stubbs looked at a replay of the final pitch and felt a lot like Tulowitzki did earlier.
"The last pitch, just looking at it, I thought it was a very questionable call," Stubbs said.
The Royals were both happy and relieved to see Moustakas deliver the big hit. There had been much talk earlier in the week about whether the struggling Moustakas was heading to Triple-A Omaha.
"We talked that that's what he has the ability to do, win a ballgame for us with one swing," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Although they shut down the Rockies with James Shields and Vargas -- the two men at the top of their rotation -- the Royals know it's only a matter of time before Colorado starts doing serious damage again offensively.
"To hold that team to two runs or less, it was a fantastic job," Yost said.