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Rox stuck in malaise as D-backs dominate

MLB.com

DENVER -- Games have not boded well for the Rockies at Coors Field as of late. The D-backs won 8-3 on Sunday, and the Rockies were swept for the second straight time at home.

After suffering sweeps against the Dodgers and D-backs in their last two home series, and dropping seven straight at home, the Rockies (32-33) dropped below .500 for the first time since April 11 when they were 6-7. Colorado is now 3 1/2 games behind the D-backs for the National League West lead.

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DENVER -- Games have not boded well for the Rockies at Coors Field as of late. The D-backs won 8-3 on Sunday, and the Rockies were swept for the second straight time at home.

After suffering sweeps against the Dodgers and D-backs in their last two home series, and dropping seven straight at home, the Rockies (32-33) dropped below .500 for the first time since April 11 when they were 6-7. Colorado is now 3 1/2 games behind the D-backs for the National League West lead.

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Not even Rockies starter Kyle Freeland, who entered with a 2.19 home ERA, could escape the offense that Arizona found in Denver. The D-backs ran his pitch count to 106 in six innings, and scored four runs, on four hits and four walks.

"They did a really good job of getting deep into at-bats," Freeland said. "They're really good at picking and choosing what they're going to swing at, fouling things off, getting their pitches."

After Paul Goldschmidt crushed a one-out double in the sixth, Freeland walked John Ryan Murphy. Ketel Marte's single scored Goldschmidt. Chris Owings grounded to third baseman Nolan Arenado, who threw to home plate. Chris Iannetta fielded the low throw, but when trying to tag Murphy, tagged his own shin and lost the ball. Jarrod Dyson's sacrifice fly to left capped off the three-run inning for the D-backs.

And then the bullpen took over. After Sunday, the Rockies bullpen had a 10.41 ERA at home since June 1, the first game of the Dodgers' sweep.

On Sunday, the Rockies sandwiched a veteran, Chris Rusin, between two young arms in relief. Left-handed pitchers Jerry Vasto, who came in for the seventh, and Sam Howard, who took the mound in the ninth, both made their Major League debuts.

Video: ARI@COL: Vasto records his first strikeout in debut

Vasto gave up Goldschmidt's two-run triple, Rusin surrendered a run in 1 1/3 innings and Howard pitched a scoreless ninth.

"It's a really tough situation [for Vasto and Howard], playing a tough team, coming in on the third game of the series," Iannetta said. "But they did pretty well and got their feet wet, so the next time they go out, they're ready to go."

Video: ARI@COL: Goldschmidt plates 2 with a triple in 7th

The pitching staff hasn't met manager Bud Black's expectations over the last 10 games. It's not just the bullpen. The starters had a 9.00 ERA and allowed 15 hits in 14 innings in this weekend's series.

"Pitching is paramount to winning," Black said. "And these last 10 games or so, we haven't pitched well as a group. The 13-man pitching staff has not pitched well enough to beat the other team. And this series, they out-pitched us and out-hit us."

The Rockies' offense didn't break through against D-backs starter Zack Godley until the sixth. Ian Desmond smacked a two-out single to drive in DJ LeMahieu, who had singled, and Arenado, who had walked, and the Rox deficit was cut to two.

Video: ARI@COL: Desmond plates 2 with a single to right

"It's not just pitching," Desmond said. "It's offense, too. The objective is to score more runs than the other team. When we weren't scoring runs, they were holding teams to less runs than we had. It's our job to score more runs to help them out, to pick them up."

The Rockies begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday in Philadelphia. On the road this season, Colorado has gone 21-14. Last year, the Rockies performed better at home (46-35) than on the road (41-40).

The Rockies players are keeping it in perspective. The D-backs lost 15 of 17 from May 9-27, and the Dodgers started out slow, too.

"I've been on teams where you look back and a coach or somebody will come up to you and say, 'Last year at this time da-da-da-da-da,'" Desmond said. "I don't really like to look at it that way. This is where we are right now. This is where this team is right now. We've got to look ourselves in the mirror. Sometimes losing helps you do that."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The D-backs were up 2-0 with one out in the sixth when Arenado attempted to cut down Murphy at the plate when fates worked against the Rockies.

Arenado was at a difficult angle and had to run into foul ground for a throwing lane to Iannetta. But grasping the ball turned out to be another problem.

Video: COL@ARI: Owings plates Murphy with a fielder's choice

"The throw on the run, it was a little bit low, coming from a funky direction, and Chris just couldn't handle it," Black said.

SOUND SMART
The last time two Rockies players debuted in the same game was Sept. 8, 2016 -- utility man Jordan Patterson and right-handed pitcher German Marquez. Sunday was the first time the Rockies have ever had two pitchers debut in the same game, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

HE SAID IT
"We're a very talented team on both sides of the ball. I can say that we're underperforming. It's a long season. Like the guys said, you'd rather hit your stride a little later. But it is a grind. It's tough. If we can just scratch out games here and there when we're not clicking like we want to, that's going to be really big." -- Shortstop Trevor Story, on how the Rockies can ride out this cold streak

UP NEXT
Through many fits and starts this season, right-handed pitcher Jon Gray (6-6, 5.66) has had to work his way through a couple fundamental breakdowns, all while trying to find victory. There was an issue with his stride foot earlier in the year, and his hand separation at the start of his delivery is an ongoing issue. Gray, who had a high pitch count in five innings, but earned a win at Cincinnati in his last start, will lead the Rockies on Tuesday at Philadelphia in the opener of a three-game series. The Phillies will start righty Aaron Nola (7-2, 2.35).

Anne Rogers is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.

Colorado Rockies