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Rockies' offense struggling during playoff push

Team not able to string together hits again in Tuesday's loss
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- The Rockies are gearing up for the stretch run toward a playoff berth, but something's missing -- runs.

Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Braves was the eighth straight game in which the Rockies haven't score more than three runs, the second-longest such streak in franchise history. Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds and Trevor Story homered, but a big inning was again missing.

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DENVER -- The Rockies are gearing up for the stretch run toward a playoff berth, but something's missing -- runs.

Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Braves was the eighth straight game in which the Rockies haven't score more than three runs, the second-longest such streak in franchise history. Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds and Trevor Story homered, but a big inning was again missing.

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The downturn is not totally painful. The Rockies remain tied with the D-backs at the top of the National League Wild Card standings, five games ahead of the Cardinals and Brewers.

"We just haven't bunched hits together," manager Bud Black said. "Some guys are getting hits, but they're not coming in the same inning. To score runs, you've got to get two or three hits an inning. We have a hit here, hit there; walk here, hit there.

"We're just not getting the one big hit in the inning or two when we've had some baserunners."

The Rockies opened a seven-game homestand on Monday, after a 1-4 road trip during which they went 5-for-39 with runners in scoring position. Being back at Coors Field, conventional wisdom had it, would bring back offensive production.

On Monday, they went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Both hits, Gerardo Parra's RBI single and Carlos Gonzalez's two-run single, came in the eighth inning of a 3-0 victory remembered most for starting pitcher Chad Bettis' inspiring seven innings in his first game this season after a bout with testicular cancer.

The best that could be said about Tuesday was that hitting with runners in scoring position wasn't as big of a problem, mainly because they were just 0-for-3. In the fifth, Arenado popped out with runners at first and third and one out. It was a result reminiscent of the road trip.

"Men on first and second, we're not getting them over, or man on third, we're not getting him in," Arenado said. "Like today, I had a man on third, and I popped up. It's unacceptable. In these kinds of games, you need runs, and we haven't been doing that."

With the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, Parra drove a Sean Newcomb pitch the opposite way to left field, only for Danny Santana to track it down.

"We're going to go through that; we hit some balls hard," second baseman DJ LeMahieu said. "'G.P.' hit that ball down the line with the bases loaded. You can't really ask much more than putting that ball down the line in that situation. It just doesn't seem like we've had any luck when we have opportunities.

"Offenses go through that here and there. It's not an excuse, but at the same time we're doing everything we can."

The Rockies showed signs during their last homestand, when they went 4-2 against the Mets and Phillies. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who arrived in a trade with the Rangers on July 30, hopes to see the offense he knows the Rockies can produce. He watched starter Kyle Freeland, after missing a start with a left groin injury, give up three runs in six innings and not be rewarded.

"You give up three runs, it's good enough for me with this offense in this park," Lucroy said. "We've got to get better, myself included.

"To me, all it means is we're going to break out soon. Guys are grinding out at-bats here and there, and we're just not getting that big knock when we need it. But sooner or later, with this lineup, it's going to show up."

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

Colorado Rockies