Lineup still un­loaded

Rock­ies aren’t hit­ting their stride, go­ing just 3-12 over past 15 games

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pa­trick Saun­ders

On a hot, hazy Thurs­day af­ter­noon in LoDo, the Rock­ies’ strug­gling of­fense took a siesta. When the wake-up call fi­nally came, it was too late.

And so the Rock­ies lost 6-3 to a Cincin­nati team that en­tered the game hav­ing lost 16 of its last 19 road games, but left Den­ver with a split of the four-game se­ries.

“It would help if we got a key hit at a big time, but I think that, over­all, we have a num­ber of guys who are not (hit­ting) right now,” man­ager Bud Black said, try­ing to ex­plain Colorado’s pro­tracted slump. “Whether they are not see­ing the ball, or their tim­ing is off, they are just not in a good spot. That’s what I’m see­ing.”

Colorado (50-38) lost for the 12th time in the last 15 games. The Rock­ies have be­come a shadow of the team that was 47-26 and owned first place in the Na­tional League West on June 20. Dur­ing the cur­rent 15-game stretch, the Rock­ies have hit only .226.

Ac­tu­ally, the Rock­ies’ sum­mer drought goes back even fur­ther. Since June 17, the Rock­ies are av­er­ag­ing 3.6 runs per game and have scored seven runs or less in 18 con­sec­u­tive games. They rank 10th in the Na­tional League with 98 home runs. For a team that plays its home games at 5,280 feet and was sup­posed to be an of­fen­sive pow­er­house, that’s a big dis­ap­point­ment.

“It seems like when you are go­ing through a tough time, it’s con­ta­gious,” said right fielder Carlos Gon­za­lez, who’s hit­ting .217 with six homers and 22 RBIs as he tries to fight through the worst slump of his all-star ca­reer. “We have a good team and I know we are go­ing to come out of this.”

Cincin­nati rookie right-han­der Sal Ro­mano, mak­ing just his se­cond big-league start, pitched five in­nings, al­low­ing two runs on six hits with one walk and six strike­outs. He notched his first vic­tory.

“He had a good an­gle on his fast­ball and that kept us off bal­ance,” said Pat Valaika, who started at third base be­cause Black de­cided to give all-star Nolan Are­nado a breather.

The Rock­ies made some noise in the eighth in­ning on a dou­ble by Raimel Tapia and a sac­ri­fice fly by DJ LeMahieu, but after Char­lie Black­mon sin­gled, stole se­cond and moved to third on an er­ror, Gon­za­lez struck out to fin­ish his

frus­trat­ing 0-for-4 day.

The Rock­ies wasted a rea­son­ably good start from right-han­der Tyler Chat­wood.

“Chatty had to bat­tle a lit­tle bit, but he got through it,” Black said. “He got a cou­ple of big dou­ble­play balls and in a grind­ing fash­ion, he got through six in­nings. In a lot of cases, that’s good enough to get a win, or put us in a po­si­tion to win.”

It’s no se­cret that Coors Field has been a haunted home field for Chat­wood. He en­tered Thurs­day’s game 2-4 with a 6.39 ERA in seven starts here. Though he cer­tainly didn’t shut down the Reds on Thurs­day, giv­ing up three runs on eight hits and four walks, Chat­wood bat­tled.

“I felt like I threw the ball well,” Chat­wood said. “A cou­ple of those walks came after check swings they didn’t call (as strike­outs), so over­all I felt good. I gave us a chance to win.”

Chat­wood faced trou­ble right off the game’s first at-bat. Billy Hamil­ton roped a triple to right field and scored on Joey Votto’s sin­gle up the mid­dle. Chat­wood es­caped the in­ning by in­duc­ing Eu­ge­nio Suarez into a ground­out dou­ble play. It was the first of a num­ber of buckle-down outs Chat­wood used to es­cape trou­ble.

He struck out Hamil­ton to end the se­cond with two men on base, then got dou­ble plays in the third and fourth to short-cir­cuit Cincin­nati ral­lies.

“When I’m throw­ing well, my ball is down in the zone and I’m get­ting ground­balls,” Chat­wood said.

Cincin­nati ex­tended its lead to 3-1 in the fifth on a Scooter Gen­nett lead­off walk fol­lowed by Adam Du­vall’s dou­ble off the right-cen­ter field wall.

Colorado, of­ten lack­ing timely hits dur­ing its re­cent slide, fi­nally re­ceived one from Tony Wolters in the fifth. He dou­bled home Trevor Story, cut­ting the Reds’ lead to 3-2.

Story, who broke an 0-for-8 streak by go­ing 2-for-4, drove in Colorado’s first run in the se­cond in­ning, scor­ing Mark Reynolds with a sin­gle to left.

David Zalubowski, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Rock­ies star Carlos Gon­za­lez re­acts to strik­ing out for the fi­nal out of the eighth in­ning of Thurs­day’s game against the Reds, strand­ing Char­lie Black­mon at third base.

John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Start­ing pitcher Tyler Chat­wood cools off in the Rock­ies’ dugout dur­ing the third in­ning of Thurs­day af­ter­noon’s se­ries fi­nale against the Cincin­nati Reds at Coors Field. Chat­wood lasted six in­nings. The game-time tem­per­a­ture was 91 de­grees.

John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Mark Reynolds scores a se­cond-in­ning run for the Rock­ies on Thurs­day, com­ing home on Trevor Story’s two-out sin­gle to cen­ter field. Reynolds scored from se­cond base.

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