PHOENIX -- Sunday afternoon's Zack Greinke-dominated 6-1 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field could be seen as a blip. After all, it ended the Rockies' season-best win streak at seven games and was just the fourth loss in the last 19 games.Greinke (11-5) owned this one. He struck out
PHOENIX -- Sunday afternoon's Zack Greinke-dominated 6-1 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field could be seen as a blip. After all, it ended the Rockies' season-best win streak at seven games and was just the fourth loss in the last 19 games.
Greinke (11-5) owned this one. He struck out 13 in eight innings and held the Rockies to two hits -- none until Ian Desmond's 19th homer with one out in the fifth. Greinke was the key reason the D-backs pulled ahead of the Rockies and into second in the National League West. The D-backs are 1 1/2 games back and the Rockies two games back of the first-place Dodgers. Still, the Rockies won the series.
"We played hard and I thought we played really great; today we ran into an All-Star pitcher who was on top of his game," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "This guy is a good pitcher -- a Cy Young Award winner.
"But two out of three here is a good outcome. They're probably really happy that they got this one here today. But this season is going to go down to a number of teams battling it out."
Still, the Rockies leave Phoenix needing better results in a key area. Sunday's performance by starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela (3-3) -- four runs and five hits allowed in 5 1/3 innings in his return from a right middle finger blister -- was the best of the series by ERA standards. The 7.63 ERA from this weekend's starters German Marquez, Kyle Freeland and Senzatela isn't what the Rockies seek.
When they return home for a five-game homestand -- two against the defending World Series champion Astros and three vs. the AL West-contending Athletics -- they must return to the effectiveness that pulled the Rockies into the postseason race.
"The starting pitching wasn't our best, but we won two out of three without our best starting pitching," Black said. "It says something about our bullpen, too."
The Rockies appear inclined not to trade away prospects or depth for starting pitching before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. As was the case last year, when the Rockies made the postseason for the first time since 2009, the likely assessment is the talent of the current young group is a better bet than a less talented (if more experienced) outside option.
The Rockies are dealing with some difficulty in the rotation. Righty Chad Bettis hasn't pitched in the Majors since July 1, and he left a rehab start at Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday after 70 pitches when he felt discomfort from a right middle finger blister that landed him on the disabled list. Additionally, Marquez is away on paternity leave in Venezuela and will have to be worked back into the rotation. But unless something falls into their lap, it appears the Rockies will stay with their starting depth.
Senzatela, pitching for the first time since July 8, finished with six strikeouts and was solid early. Consecutive doubles by A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr. gave the D-backs a 1-0 lead in the first, but Senzatela was settled down until one key pitch in the fourth. With two out and two on, one of them via a two-out walk to Jake Lamb, Nick Ahmed lined a two-run triple just past the glove of diving left fielder Gerardo Parra for a 3-0 lead.
"I thought he [Parra] was going to get that ball, but that's the ballgame," Senzatela said.
A walk to Souza, the final batter Senzatela faced in the sixth, led to another run.
"His stuff was good," Black said. "The walks are something we have to continue to address with Sensa and all our pitchers, actually. For us, as a pitching staff, it's something that we have to really concentrate on these last two months."
Senzatela, pulled after 83 pitches, added, "Walks break my heart."
For the second time this series, lefty reliever Chris Rusin illustrated the likelihood that the Rockies will beef up their bullpen before the deadline.
Rusin replaced Senzatela with one out and one on in the sixth. Second baseman Garrett Hampson, in his second Major League game, booted Lamb's grounder to load the bases. Rusin proceeded to walk Daniel Descalso and was replaced by rookie righty Yency Almonte, who waked Ahmed and yielded Jeff Mathis' two-run single.
After compiling a 2.65 ERA as a multi-use reliever last season, Rusin has a 6.81 this year and has been spotty at best in a left-on-left role.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hampson is replacing two-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who is out with a left oblique injury. After making two standout plays in his debut Saturday night, Hampson saw the other side.
Hampson mishandled Lamb's grounder, which could have resulted in an inning-ending double pay. Instead, three batters later, the deficit had gone from two to five runs.
"That ball was hit hard, but it was right at Garrett," Black said. "And if you ask Garrett, he'll probably tell you he should have made the play. It was hit well by Lamb."
Desmond has been a key cog for a Rockies team that traditionally struggles offensively on the road. The home run off Greinke was his seventh in the last 27 road games, and 14 of his 19 homers have come on the road.
HE SAID IT
"It seems liked Nolan Arenado had that coming because he has stolen so many base hits from us." -- D-backs manager Torey Lovullo on Lamb robbing Arenado on a line drive in the fourth inning
Lefty Tyler Anderson (6-3, 3.72 ERA) will open a two-game set against the defending World Series champion Astros at Coors Field on Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. MT. The Astros will send righty Gerrit Cole (10-2, 2.52) to the mound. In nine starts since June 1, Anderson is 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA, 59 strikeouts and 18 walks. Cole won his only career start at Coors, allowing two earned runs in six innings while playing for the Pirates in 2016.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.