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Rox offense sputters, can't support Freeland

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

LOS ANGELES -- After barely hitting at all in a 3-0 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, the Rockies are left hoping for better offense at Coors Field -- where they have performed well below expectations.

Such is the situation for the Rockies, who struck out 15 times Wednesday -- 12 against Kenta Maeda, who held them to two hits in 6 2/3 innings and didn't give up a hit until Ian Desmond's fifth-inning, one-out single. Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland's sixth straight quality start -- 6 1/3 innings, three runs, six hits, three strikeouts -- went for naught, thanks to Maeda.

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LOS ANGELES -- After barely hitting at all in a 3-0 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, the Rockies are left hoping for better offense at Coors Field -- where they have performed well below expectations.

Such is the situation for the Rockies, who struck out 15 times Wednesday -- 12 against Kenta Maeda, who held them to two hits in 6 2/3 innings and didn't give up a hit until Ian Desmond's fifth-inning, one-out single. Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland's sixth straight quality start -- 6 1/3 innings, three runs, six hits, three strikeouts -- went for naught, thanks to Maeda.

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"Hats off to him," said Freeland (4-5), who is 4-2 during his quality start streak and has had just two runs of support in the two losses. "He filled up the zone. He controlled it the whole time."

Tweet from @RockiesPR: #Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland has worked six consecutive quality starts. He's allowed nine earned runs his past 40.1 innings for a 2.01 ERA

The Rockies return home for a nine-game homestand starting Friday against the Reds leading the National League West by a half-game over the sinking D-backs, who have dropped 13 of their last 14. On the agenda to correct is strikeouts -- they've fanned in double figures in 23 of their 50 games.

The K pace actually has slowed. They've reached double figures just four of the last 12 games. Maeda fanned eight while going eight innings in a win at Miami in his previous start. 

"I'm going to pinpoint him [Maeda] tonight," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Our strikeouts had been down the last week or so, but tonight was just a lot of Maeda."

The Rockies are tied with the Red Sox for the Major League lead in road wins (19) after this 4-5 road trip, but hope to finally find some success at home. They're hitting a lighter-than-expected .252 (tied for sixth in the NL) with a .751 OPS (fifth in the NL) at home, but they've played one fewer game at Coors (18) than they've won on the road.

"We're playing pretty good -- obviously a tough [last] two games here, but I think we're going to be all right," said Nolan Arenado, who was 0-for-3 Wednesday and 1-for-10 as the Rockies dropped 2-of-3 to the Dodgers.

Video: COL@LAD: Desmond knocks Rockies' 1st hit in 5th

Maeda erased the Rockies' best chance -- two on and one out in the sixth -- spectacularly. Charlie Blackmon walked and David Dahl singled to put runners on first and third. But two of the team's better hitters this season -- Arenado and Gerardo Parra -- went down swinging on six offspeed pitches. Arenado looked at a slider, then swung through two sliders, the last not close.

"He made some good pitches there. … I don't know; I've gotta have a more quality at-bat in that situation," Arenado said.

Parra struck out on a curveball and two changeups.

"Every pitch from him was nasty today," Parra said.

Video: COL@LAD: Freeland, Parra discuss loss to Dodgers

Maeda also fanned Trevor Story and Desmond on three pitches apiece to open the seventh, for four straight strikeouts on 12 pitches.

SOUND SMART
Sometimes the numbers play out. Sometimes they don't. With no score, one out and two on in the fourth, Freeland faced Dodgers second baseman Logan Forsythe, who at that point was 1-for-18 against left-handed pitchers. But with the count 2-2, after fouling off two pitches, Forsythe lashed a slider to left field for a run-scoring double that keyed a two-run inning.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Desmond's struggles have his batting average at .181, but he has shown some life in the last six games -- 6-for-21 (.286) with two homers and six RBIs. And he became a man of the people in the sixth inning.

Desmond leaped, leaned and tumbled into the front row of the stands in foul ground behind first base to snare Enrique Hernandez's leadoff pop foul.

Video: COL@LAD: Desmond dives into stands to make great grab

UP NEXT
Righty Jon Gray (4-6, 5.34 ERA) is coming off two rough starts -- losses to the Brewers and Giants during which his fastball was ineffective -- and is 2-3 with a 6.04 ERA at Coors Field this season. But he is 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA against the Reds -- the team he will face at Coors Field on Friday night at 6:40 p.m. MT. The Reds will start Sal Romano (2-5, 5.62 ERA). The game will begin a nine-game homestand, and the Rockies hope to turn around a rough start at Coors (7-11).

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, Kyle Freeland