Rockies struggle to support uneven Chacin in finale
Grieving starter ends dominance on road as Colorado drops series
BALTIMORE -- Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin quickly turned the conversation to the pitches he left over the plate during his roughest road start of the season, a 7-2 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards on an overcast Sunday afternoon before 22,238.
But there was no denying he was affected by the death of his grandmother, Maria Alvarez, who died Saturday in Maraciabo, Venezuela, after a long illness.
"It was a tough situation, but it really didn't affect me -- maybe the focus before the game, but when I got to the game, I was leaving the pitches up, and that's why I got a lot of runners on base and gave up a lot of runs," Chacin said.
In Chacin's world, three is "a lot." It was the most he has yielded in any road start this season. But he lasted 5 1/3 innings and gave up the three runs, two on Adam Jones' 25th homer, and nine hits, with two walks and five strikeouts. The Jones homer was just the second off Chacin on the road. His ERA is a still-stingy 1.86 in nine road starts.
Chacin, 25, who will leave the team Monday to be with his mother but expects to return and start Friday at Miami, admitted dealing with the loss of his inspiration was tough. His grandmother had suffered a stroke in May and he spent time with her during the All-Star break.
"She was the one when I was young, in the Latin American tournament and everywhere I went in Venezuela, she always took me because both of my parents worked," Chacin said. "And she was the same with my little brother. Even in November when I was playing winter league, she would go to the games."
Behind their grieving pitcher, the Rockies had chances for much of the game, but couldn't come up with big hits or pitches. Lefty Josh Outman replaced Chacin to escape a sixth-inning jam, but in the seventh gave up two runs, ending his scoreless streak at nine games. Major League home runs leader Chris Davis put the game beyond reach in the eighth with a two-run shot, his 45th, off reliever Edgmer Escalona.
"He fought his way through," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Chacin. "But he battled. He wanted to stay out there. He competed well, kept the game in check."
Chacin and Weiss said there was no consideration to him missing the start. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who drove in a run in the seventh, but had to leave after being smoked in the mask with a foul ball in the eighth, said Chacin's performance was admirable. He left with a 3-0 deficit.
"I'll tell you what, he pitched really good," said Torrealba, a fellow Venezuelan. "It was his grandmother, but it was like his mom at the same time. Give a lot of credit for the guy to actually keep us in the game. He was not 100 percent to concentrate.
"Honestly, it's hard. It happened to me back in 2005. I wasn't able to concentrate. I wasn't playing every day and it came to my mind all the time."
Todd Helton, in just his second start as designated hitter in his lengthy career, opened the seventh with career hit No. 2,492, and his 582nd double (one shy of Hall of Famer Robin Yount for 17th all-time) against Orioles starter Scott Feldman (3-3). Charlie Blackmon doubled Helton home, stole third and scored on Torrealba's groundout.
But Feldman held the Rockies to two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings.
"He threw his breaking ball a lot, and it seemed like it never got there," Helton said. "It took me one at-bat to get adjusted. I saw it fine. It was just slower than it looked."
Feldman defused a possible rally in the sixth. Corey Dickerson was at third, courtesy of a walk and two wild pitches, but he fanned Troy Tulowitzki (2-for-4) and worked Michael Cuddyer into a fly ball.
Feldman figured his offspeed pitches would be a weapon.
"Going over the lineup with [catcher Taylor] Teagarden earlier, we knew they were going to be aggressive," Feldman said. "Just tried to keep a good mix out there."
The Rockies (58-67) haven't won a road series since taking 2-of-3 at San Diego July 8-10. The Orioles (67-56), an American League contender, had lost four straight before taking games Saturday and Sunday, and are happy to have Jones and Davis on good footing.
"I thought Chris' home run was big for us," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You look up there and see that he's hitting .300, and Jones has very quietly snuck back over .300 after a frustrating two or three games for him toward the end of the trip."
Outman replaced Chacin after Teagarden's one-out double in the sixth and pitched out of the inning. But Outman gave up singles to Davis and Jones to open the seventh, and Brian Roberts delivered a one-out, two-run single for a 5-2 lead.
With two Rockies on and one out in the eighth, reliever Darren O'Day forced Helton to fly to left to end an eight-pitch at-bat, and got Nolan Arenado to hit a topper that Teagarden picked up to throw him out at first.
The Rockies' 4-14 Interleague record is the worst in the Majors, and they went 2-8 against the AL on the road.