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Altuve, Morneau, Harper to play in Japan series

MLB All-Stars to participate in five games against national team in November

Two of baseball's top hitters and one of its brightest young stars have been added to the roster of Major Leaguers that will represent Major League Baseball in the Japan All-Star Series in November.

The league announced on Tuesday that American League batting champion Jose Altuve, National League batting champion Justin Morneau and Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper were added to the roster, which already includes Robinson Cano, Adam Jones, Yasiel Puig and Albert Pujols.

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Red Sox manager John Farrell will manage the club, which will play a five-game series against "Samurai Japan," Japan's national team. Games will take place in Osaka, Tokyo and Sapporo, and two exhibition games will complement the five-game set.

The first exhibition game is scheduled to be played on Nov. 11, and the series is scheduled to run through Nov. 20.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Voting underway to decide Hank Aaron Awards

Help decide this season's top offensive performer in each league

Voting underway to decide Hank Aaron Awards

Voting is underway through Sunday exclusively at MLB.com to help decide the 16th annual winners of the Hank Aaron Award, given by "The Hammer" himself during the upcoming 110th World Series to the outstanding offensive performer in each league.

American League nominees include Nelson Cruz of Baltimore, David Ortiz of Boston, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, Michael Brantley of Cleveland, Victor Martinez of Detroit, Jose Altuve of Houston, Alex Gordon of Kansas City, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, Trevor Plouffe of Minnesota, Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees, Josh Donaldson of Oakland, Robinson Cano of Seattle, Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, Adrian Beltre of Texas and Jose Bautista of Toronto.

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National League candidates include Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona, Justin Upton of Atlanta, Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs, Devin Mesoraco of Cincinnati, Justin Morneau of Colorado, Adrian Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Giancarlo Stanton of Miami, Jonathan Lucroy of Milwaukee, Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets, Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh, Matt Carpenter of St. Louis, Seth Smith of San Diego, Hunter Pence of San Francisco and Anthony Rendon of Washington.

Goldschmidt is going after his second straight Hank Aaron Award, having been the NL choice last year for the first time. Miguel Cabrera was the AL recipient each of the past two years, but V-Mart's nomination by Detroit means an end to that streak.

"As one of the game's most talented and respected players ever, it is appropriate that Major League Baseball recognizes the top offensive performers in each league with an award named in honor of Hank Aaron," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Each of the nominees should be applauded for their outstanding seasons, which will make selecting just one winner in each league a difficult task for Hank, our Hall of Fame panel and our participating fans."

"I am honored to have my name on the award given by Major League Baseball to the top offensive performers in the game," Aaron said. "Each of the nominees is talented and deserving, which makes me grateful to have the assistance of my fellow Hall of Famers and the fans to help select the winners."

For the fifth consecutive year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron will join fans in voting for the award, which is officially sanctioned by MLB and has recognized the top offensive threat in each league since it was established in 1999.

The panel includes some of the greatest offensive players of all-time -- Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Frank Thomas and Robin Yount. These Hall of Famers -- who combined for 16,956 hits, 8,844 RBIs and 2,109 home runs -- have been personally selected by Aaron to lend their expertise to select the best offensive performer in each league.

Do you go with a masher, like Stanton or Cruz? Or do you recognize a guy like Altuve, who led the Majors in batting average and led the AL in stolen bases? Home run kings often fare well in this process, but Chris Davis (53 homers) was trumped last year by Cabrera. And what about Trout, often referred to as the game's best player?

Past winners of the Hank Aaron Award include Cabrera and Goldschmidt (2013); Cabrera and Buster Posey (2012); Bautista and Matt Kemp (2011); Bautista and Joey Votto (2010); Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols (2009); Aramis Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis (2008); Rodriguez and Prince Fielder (2007); Jeter and Ryan Howard (2006); Ortiz and Andruw Jones (2005); Manny Ramirez and Barry Bonds (2004); Alex Rodriguez and Pujols (2003); Rodriguez and Bonds (2001-02); Carlos Delgado and Todd Helton (2000) and Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa (1999).

The award was introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record. At that time, it was the first major award introduced by MLB in more than 25 years.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Injuries take their toll on Rockies in tough season

Club unable to rebound after multiple losses to lineup, rotation

Injuries take their toll on Rockies in tough season

The number of injuries, and the strangeness of some of them, are well-documented factors in a Rockies season that started promising, but descended into a fourth straight below-.500 season. But manager Walt Weiss realizes that much losing turns reasons into excuses in the eyes of fans.

"We've got to earn the benefit of the doubt around here," Weiss said. "The last couple years, finishing in last place, you don't get the benefit of the doubt. We've had a lot of injuries, obviously, but we tried not to focus too much on that."

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The Rockies can refuse to focus on the injuries, but it would be tough not to see and acknowledge them. Some are hard to forget.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's standout season ended when he suffered a left hip injury just after his All-Star Game appearance and underwent season-ending surgery in August. Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez struggled early because of a tumor in his left middle finger, which was removed in June, and suffered a knee injury that led to season-ending surgery around the same time as Tulowitzki's operation.

The season also saw 2013 National League batting champ Michael Cuddyer miss time twice with left hamstring injuries, and in between he lost 60 games when he suffered a fractured left shoulder while diving for a ball while playing third base. It was a position he hadn't played at since 2010. He was playing third because 2013 rookie Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner Nolan Arenado suffered a broken left middle finger. Power-hitting catcher Wilin Rosario missed time with the flu early, and dealt with left hand and wrist issues throughout the season.

Starting pitching injuries, of course, were a problem. Righty Jhoulys Chacin, who was supposed to join lefty Jorge De La Rosa at the top of the rotation, suffered a right shoulder injury before even throwing a bullpen session in Spring Training, and made just 11 starts before being shelved for the year.

Then came the unusual injuries. Lefty Brett Anderson broke his left index finger hitting a pitch off the end of his bat in his third start and missed three months, and five starts after his return he suffered a season-ending back injury. Right-handers Jordan Lyles and Christian Bergman each ended up breaking their non-throwing hands.

Sure the injuries were extreme in their number and nature, but there was no escaping that they exposed a lack of depth in the system. Part of it is the Rockies' salary structure doesn't allow big spending on pitching and bench experience, but they didn't have enough viable players from their farm system to remain competitive.

"We feel like when we got all our pieces together we're a good club and we were a very good club early," Weiss said. "But you know what? That's part of the game. We got hit hard this year, but like I said, you've got to adapt and overcome those things."

Defining moment: By early May, the disturbing patterns of injuries and poor road play were creeping into the season. After starting 8-8 away from Coors, the team went 2-5 on its next road trip. Cuddyer was not long off the first of his three trips to the DL, and Gonzalez was resting, hoping his finger would heal. Anderson was already hurt, and Chacin was back from his Spring Training injury, but nowhere near form. Still, with Tulowitzki putting up MVP numbers, the Rockies entered a May 23 game against the Braves 26-22 and four games out of first place.

But in the second inning, Arenado suffered the broken left middle finger when he jammed it jammed into second base on a head-first slide as he hustled out a double. Then the Rockies went on a season-killing slide of their own -- 10-27 with Arenado out of the lineup. In a year of so many injuries, that one seemed to be the tipping point.

What went right: Imagine what the signing of first baseman Justin Morneau, for two years and $12.5 million, could have done for the Rockies had the team around him stayed healthy. Morneau went on to win the NL batting crown with a .319 average, but Tulowitzki had a much higher average (.340) when he went out, and Cuddyer finished with a higher mark in and around his injuries.

For a club with a moderate payroll to succeed, multiple young players have to make major strides. Although it wasn't nearly enough, the Rockies had some. Charlie Blackmon, in his first year starting in center field and first full big-league year, was one of the most productive leadoff men in the league in terms of home runs and stolen bases. Outfielder Corey Dickerson's hitting made him difficult to keep out of the lineup. Righty Adam Ottavino displayed an electric slider throughout, found increased fastball velocity as the year progressed and just might be the closer of the future. Lefty Tyler Matzek, the 2009 No. 1 Draft pick, was by far the best of the pitchers called from the Minors. Also, catcher Michael McKenry, who made a quick comeback from knee surgery last year with the Pirates, provided unexpectedly strong offensive numbers. Closer LaTroy Hawkins, who was supposed to gracefully bow out of the closer role, didn't, and had a solid season.

What went wrong: Successful Rockies teams have covered for injuries and inexperience with a solid bullpen. To help ensure themselves of such, they signed lefty Boone Logan to a three-year, $16.5 million contract -- the richest they had ever given a reliever. But Logan was coming off surgery for bone chips and a bone spur. He constantly battled elbow inflammation, and a bout with a digestive ailment to boot, and finally ended his season early for a follow-up bone spur procedure. Add to that to total meltdown of lefty Rex Brothers, who had a sub 2.00 ERA last year but was prone to walks and home runs this time, and the bullpen spent the year on the run. The starting rotation -- between the injuries and the struggles of righty Juan Nicasio and lefty Franklin Morales to avoid homers -- left a bullpen already dealing with problems with a large innings load.

Biggest surprise: The Rockies entered Spring Training needing to answer a question at the top of the order, but Weiss planned on Blackmon all along. Blackmon started the year at a pace that no hitter could keep and ended up in the All-Star Game. Although he struggled after the break, Blackmon more than adequately filled what many observers felt was a vexing problem.

Hitter of the Year: The way Tulowitzki, Cuddyer and Morneau produced, the healthiest hitter would win. It turned out to be Morneau, who missed some time around the All-Star break with a neck strain, but otherwise was healthy and productive on his way to a National League batting title.

Morneau had dealt with injuries in his final seasons in Minnesota, but proved his health this year. Also, he put up solid home/road splits -- a major problem for players throughout the history of the franchise.

Pitcher of the Year: De La Rosa's 10-2 home record with a 3.08 ERA and a .228 batting average against were more than just gaudy stats. They offered a counterpoint to the notion that Coors Field will claim any good pitcher's career. Well, De La Rosa is 45-14 with a 3.98 ERA in 81 starts at Coors. De La Rosa further perfected his blueprint for Coors pitching by adding a cut fastball, which helped him work inside to right-handers and set up his fastball and his main pitch, the changeup. The way he works hitters on both sides of the plate is serving as a teaching tool for younger hurlers such as Lyles, who added a changeup during the season, and rookie righty Christian Bergman, who works well inside against right-handers, but is developing a curveball for the other side of the plate.

Rookie of the Year: The Rockies toyed with making Matzek a reliever, sending him to the Arizona Fall League last year to convert and using him in that capacity this spring, before deciding he was more valuable as rotation depth. When Matzek received his chance, he found the control and location that had been iffy earlier in his career. His 3.55 ERA after the All-Star break was fourth-lowest among NL rookies starters.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rockies hoping for more health, depth in 2015

Tulo, CarGo at full strength can help make Colorado a postseason contender

Rockies hoping for more health, depth in 2015

Days before the season ended, Rockies manager Walt Weiss thought back to those hopeful days of Spring Training, April and May. Back then, phrases like "if all goes right" and "barring injury" had not been rendered meaningless by misfortune and pain. With the season now over, Weiss is happy those caveats have meaning for 2015.

Yes, there are personnel areas that need to be improved for the Rockies' dreams of being a contender to come true. But soon, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will go from names on the disabled list to flesh-and-blood -- and, yes, rehabbing -- stars. They may be subject to trade rumors, but more likely they'll be around in 2015.

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Tumors removed from fingers, pitchers breaking their catching hands, injuries under weird circumstances and poor road trips will be memories that can be erased.

The big difference between those hopeful pre- and early-season days and now is Weiss realizes the better-case scenarios, which would end up with the Rockies battling for the playoffs at the very least, have to come true next year.

"This year we were in position to do it, but for a variety of reasons it didn't happen," said Weiss, who will be in the second year of his three-year contract. "I've got to take responsibility for that, and I do.

"It's probably a tough sell, because we haven't performed well the last few years. But I still feel like we're within striking distance."

This year, as has been the case in recent years, the Rockies were not deep enough to withstand injuries. The good news is, according to club officials and feedback they're receiving from other teams, the Class A Asheville team's list of possible Major Leaguers is in double figures -- an unusually large number. But there are still gaps at the top of the system, which means the Rockies must acquire higher-quality depth, since they can't guarantee health.

During the rough season, outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson emerged as offensive weapons, second-year third baseman Nolan Arenado's bat began to catch up with his already-acknowledged glove, and lefty Jorge De La Rosa re-signed to lead a starting staff that has some promise. But whether it's through trades or free agency, the Rockies simply have to add starting pitching depth and improve the bullpen. Whether it's from players improving or new blood, the Rockies must get better at executing and scoring runs on the road.

"We've got to take a big step forward next year, or at that point there probably are major changes on the horizon," Weiss said. "Some moves here and there, I think we're in position to do that. Again, we've got to go out and do it, not talk about it."

Potential free agents: LHP Brett Anderson ($12 million club option or $1.5 million buyout), RHP Matt Belisle, OF-1B Michael Cuddyer, RHP LaTroy Hawkins ($2.25 million club option or $250,000 buyout), RHP Nick Masset, LHP Franklin Morales.

Eligible for arbitration: RHP Jhoulys Chacin, C Michael McKenry, RHP Adam Ottavino, RHP Juan Nicasio, C Wilin Rosario, OF Drew Stubbs.

Rotation: Starters quietly improved after the All-Star break. As long as Chacin (rotator cuff and labrum damage) returns healthy to join De La Rosa at the top, there is a chance at a good rotation. Even with Anderson's health issues (he missed early time with a broken left index finger, and later a season-ending back injury), the club has to seriously consider bringing him back; his stuff was electric during his few healthy outings. Righty Jordan Lyles, whose changeup should become a greater weapon after an offseason to develop it, and rookie lefty Tyler Matzek are on the upswing. Righty prospects Christian Bergman and Eddie Butler finished the year in the Majors, and righty Jon Gray and lefty Tyler Anderson appear to be on their way. The key is depth, and it would do the club good to grab a veteran or two for the roster and some experience at the Triple-A level.

Bullpen: The Rockies are expected to re-sign Hawkins to hold down the closer role until someone else emerges. To give him company in the 40-plus club, expect Rafael Betancourt (who hits the big 4-0 in April) to attempt a comeback from 2013 elbow surgery. Ottavino could be that closer in waiting, after a second solid season. There are problems from the left, where Rex Brothers just completed an awful season after a stellar 2013, and Boone Logan had a second elbow cleanup procedure -- on a bone spur, a year after he had an operation for bone chips and a bone spur. Righties Juan Nicasio and Brooks Brown, and lefty Christian Friedrich -- all converted starters -- could be payroll-saving relievers if they turn out to be fits. But it would behoove the club to upgrade through trades or free agency.

Catcher: Expect the Rockies to get the temperature of American League clubs, which could give Rosario relief from behind-the-plate duty as a designated hitter, and see they can fill other holes in return. If that happens, though, look for them to join the sweepstakes for free agent Russell Martin or bring in a veteran catcher. They unearthed a gem, however, in McKenry, who was a pleasant surprise offensively and who took the No. 1 job late in the year while the Rockies were testing younger pitching. A payroll-saving option would be to count on McKenry as the starter and bring in a veteran backup.

First base: Justin Morneau turned out to be a shrewd signing as the veteran took home the NL batting title in 2014. After years of various injuries, he has finished the last two years healthy and productive. If Michael Cuddyer leaves, the club could give right-handed-hitting former No. 1 Draft pick Kyle Parker a shot at a combination of time at first base and in the outfield. Lefty-hitting Ben Paulsen performed well during callups, and could be a bat off the bench -- a valuable asset for a club whose payroll doesn't allow for a bigger-ticket veteran pinch-hitter.

Second base: By all rights, DJ LeMahieu should take home a Rawlings Gold Glove Award this offseason and become the third Rockies infielder with one of those -- Tulowitzki has two, Arenado has one and should get his second. He has provided some production and bat-handling late in the order. An argument could be made to seek a greater run-producer at that spot, but such a player is hard to find.

Third base: Arenado not only consistently produced highlight-level defense, but when other big hitters were out with injury he began to show the middle-of-the-order potential the Rockies saw when the picked him in the second round in 2009. When he was hurt, however, the dropoff to the other options was scary. But if the work of switch-hitting September callup Rafael Ynoa was for real, the Rockies may have their valuable low-cost utility guy.

Shortstop: The challenge becomes keeping Tulowitzki healthy. Part of that process could be giving him frequent days off early in the season. Josh Rutledge has shown the most comfort when playing short, but he has struggled at second and third. To fit on this roster, he has to become more versatile. Ynoa's emergence at season's end could allow the Rockies to seek to deal Rutledge to a team in need of a shortstop.

Outfield: The Rockies started the year with what seemed like too many outfielders. But with the injuries to Gonzalez and Cuddyer, it turned out the Rockies had enough. Blackmon earned an All-Star Game invitation, and if there'd been an All-Star gathering for the second half, Dickerson would have been invited. Drew Stubbs had his best overall season in a rotation of playing time, and Brandon Barnes showed value in a reserve role. Stubbs, headed into his third arbitration year, established his value enough that he could be dealt to fill other holes. While rumors of a Gonzalez deal will likely surface, the Rockies also could be bold and see what they could get for one of the younger outfielders. Such moves, however, aren't in the club's DNA.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Morneau claims NL batting title with .319 average

First baseman clinches ninth title in Rockies' history, enters off bench in finale

Morneau claims NL batting title with .319 average

LOS ANGELES -- Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau began this year in a big-hitting lineup but ended it without his heavy-hitting friends. Still, he won his first National League batting title.

Morneau grounded out as a pinch-hitter in his only at-bat Sunday to finish with a .319 batting average. It is the ninth batting title in club history, by the seventh different player, and the Rockies' third in the last five years.

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This season, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was leading the league at .340 but underwent season-ending left hip surgery in August. Michael Cuddyer entered Sunday's season finale against the Dodgers at .332, but he spent 99 games on the disabled list with various injuries and did not reach the necessary 502 plate appearances to qualify. Morneau missed time with neck stiffness but managed to play 135 games.

"The first half when we had everyone together, it was just going out there every day and trying to do your job, be a part of it," Morneau said. "But losing Tulo, losing 'CarGo' [former NL batting champ Carlos Gonzalez], and missing Cuddy for a lot of the time, missing Nolan [Arenado], it was tough. But you have a job to do."

Morneau clinched the batting title before entering the game Sunday. The Pirates' Josh Harrison, who was the closest challenger, went 0-for-4 in his team's loss to the Reds to drop to .315. The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen ended at .314.

Believing it important to help Morneau secure the crown in a season when the Rockies were out of the race early, manager Walt Weiss did not start Morneau on Saturday night with Harrison a point behind. Weiss repeated the decision Sunday.

There was a possibility that the issue would not be settled Sunday. Had the Pirates won and the Cardinals lost, they would have gone to a 163rd regular-season game to decide the NL Central title. But the loss left the Pirates as a Wild Card team and the Cards as division champion.

Morneau was one of the Majors' top stars in the American League with the Twins before he suffered a concussion in 2010. The aftermath of the concussion, along with neck and wrist injuries, cut his availability and effectiveness. But Morneau managed to play in 152 games last season with the Twins and the Pirates, batting .259. The performance led the Rockies to sign Morneau for two years at $12.5 million.

Within the game, it is generally appreciated when the manager of a team in the Rockies' situation helps a player achieve a career milestone. Some media and fans spoke against the Rockies' strategy, but Weiss was having none of the criticism.

"Anybody who has a problem with it, then their beef can be with me," Weiss said. "I'm going to try and make sure the guy wins the batting title. People can talk about backing into it and stuff, but that doesn't bother me. It takes six months to win a batting title, not one day."

In the AL, the Astros' Jose Altuve talked his way into the lineup rather than sit with a three-point lead over the Tigers' Victor Martinez. Altuve went 2-for-4 to improve his average a point, to .341, for the first batting crown in Astros history. The Astros tweeted before the game that Altuve had talked his way into the lineup.

Morneau was fine with Weiss' strategy.

"Last night it was, 'Let's see how it goes,'" Morneau said. "Today I came in ready to play, and he just said, 'We're going to sit you out and let it play as it is.'

"You work all year for it, so it doesn't come down to the last two games. There were games I sat during the year and time I spent on the DL. It's a little different if you play 160 and stop at the end. I trusted what the manager was telling me and it worked out."

In a pitching-dominant 2014 season, Morneau's is the lowest batting average for an NL champion since Terry Pendleton hit .319 for the Braves in 1991. Tony Gwynn won the NL title in 1988 at .313. The last time an AL batting champ had a lower average was 1972, when the Twins' Rod Carew hit .318.

Rockies batting champs

1993 -- Andres Galarraga, .370
1998 -- Larry Walker, .363
1999 -- Larry Walker, .379
2000 -- Todd Helton, .372
2001 -- Larry Walker, .350
2007 -- Matt Holliday, .340
2010 -- Carlos Gonzalez, .336
2013 -- Michael Cuddyer, .331
2014 -- Justin Morneau, .319

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rockies unable to crash LA's party in finale

Morneau enters as pinch-hitter after clinching NL batting crown

Rockies unable to crash LA's party in finale

LOS ANGELES -- Four batters into the bottom of the first inning, Matt Kemp launched a two-run homer into the left-field stands at Dodger Stadium. For one final time in 2014 -- and too many times, frankly -- the Rockies were merely guests at someone else's party.

The National League West champion Dodgers slammed the Rockies, 10-5, to complete a season-ending three-game sweep. Although the Rockies avoided last place in the NL West after consecutive basement finishes, their 66-96 record is second worst in the club's 22-season history. Their 21-60 road mark was a franchise low, as were the 255 road runs.

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Manager Walt Weiss, who has talked so often about road woes but knows they're a subject until the Rockies can reverse them, gave the team an encouraging but direct postgame message.

"I told them how much I appreciate the way they showed up every day, especially through the toughest of times this year -- they never wavered in that department," Weiss said. "I also told them we have a lot of work to do, and to get their minds right this offseason. Take a break, then get back to work and be ready to turn this thing around next year.

"I'm ready for a break."

The Dodgers were led by Kemp's 25th homer of the year and Adrian Gonzalez's three-run shot in the fifth, his 27th. Both came off Rockies right-handed starter Christian Bergman (3-5). Roger Bernadina added his first homer of the season, for three runs in the sixth, off reliever Rob Scahill. The homers were part of a good time had by all the Dodgers, who cackled as manager Don Mattingly turned the team over for the day to veteran infielder Juan Uribe, whose career began with the Rockies in 2001.

The Rockies had some cause to celebrate. Justin Morneau won the ninth batting title in club history with a .319 average. Weiss didn't start Morneau to protect his lead over the Pirates' Josh Harrison, who finished at .315 after going 0-for-4 in his team's regular-season finale Sunday. Morneau grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning Sunday, but his average did not change.

"The thing I'll be most proud of is the consistency," Morneau said. "You go through a year and you hit .450 for a couple of weeks, then you go 0-for-30. But it doesn't have to go that way."

Producing on the road is only part of what went wrong for the Rockies. Staying healthy also was a problem, and Sunday illustrated it.

With Michael Cuddyer also out for the finale, the Rockies' starting lineup included just two Opening Day starters -- outfielder Charlie Blackmon and catcher Wilin Rosario, who opened the eighth with his 13th homer of the season.

 The Rockies' Rafael Ynoa, a former Dodgers farmhand, delivered a three-run double in the seventh.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Butler reports back soreness after final start

Club's second-ranked prospect scheduled for Arizona Fall League action

Butler reports back soreness after final start

LOS ANGELES -- The soreness that has accompanied Rockies right-hander Eddie Butler through what was supposed to be a breakout season resurfaced Sunday morning.

Butler threw 4 2/3 innings -- with subpar velocity and effectiveness that decreased by the inning -- in the Rockies' 6-5, 12-inning loss to the Dodgers on Saturday night. He reported upper back soreness the next morning. It marked the end of a regular season during which Butler dealt with a rotator cuff strain that showed up immediately after his June 6 Major League debut.

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Butler, the club's No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com, is expected to go to the Arizona Fall League this week. Although the soreness is bothersome, he talked to head athletic trainer Keith Dugger to relieve his mind.

"Soreness has been a normal thing this year, but it's been abnormal for my life," Butler said. "I talked to 'Doogie' and said I was a little sore today, and he said, 'Yeah, you'll feel a pinch.'"

Last year, in his first full pro season after being a supplemental first-round Draft pick in 2012, Butler, 23, struck out 143 and posted a 1.80 ERA in 149 2/3 innings. He looked electric this spring in his first big league camp. But there was a noticeable drop in velocity from the beginning of the regular season at Double-A Tulsa.

Butler put up numbers strong enough to earn the June callup. After the first start, a home loss to the Dodgers, the Rockies placed Butler on the disabled list and had him modify his training program to take care of muscles that might have been neglected in the past.

Butler finished up with a Tulsa team that went to the Texas League Championship Series. He returned to defeat the D-backs with an effective six-inning performance last Saturday, during which he gave up one run on five hits but struck out just one. He didn't strike out any against the Dodgers on Saturday, and gave up five runs on eight hits.

The fastball velocity is around 91-92 mph, instead of 94-96 that he showed regularly in the past.

"I was happy last night early on because the sinker was good -- if the 'velo' is not there, if I have a sinker, I'll be all right," Butler said. "I'll try to work back to the velocity."

Butler's issue, with health and velocity, could be rooted in his loss of a consistent arm slot. The Rockies are counting on Butler finding his form this offseason so they aren't doing any chicken-and-egg investigations next year.

"We've seen him command the ball with velocity," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "That's who he is. We're seeing him at the end of the season right now. Maybe that's a factor. He's a mid 90s guy that can sink it and command it at that velocity."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Hawkins logs 1,000th career appearance

Hawkins logs 1,000th career appearance

LOS ANGELES -- Rockies right-hander LaTroy Hawkins has achieved a dependability that makes calling upon him routine. But Hawkins has fulfilled his routine so long and so well that the latest outing was a special occasion.

By retiring the only batter he faced on Saturday night's 6-5, 12-inning loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, Hawkins became the 16th pitcher in Major League history to appear in his 1,000th game. He is two games out of 15th place, held by Hall of Famer Goose Gossage.

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"It' a very humbling accomplishment … when I get back to my room tonight, I'll sit down and think about it a little bit more," Hawkins said.

Hawkins forced a Darwin Barney fly ball to left field in the eighth, with the Rockies trailing by one run. Ben Paulsen's leadoff homer in the top of the ninth tied it, but the Rockies lost on lefty reliever Franklin Morales' wild pitch with a runner on third in the 12th.

Still, the occasion was celebrated. The team gathered in the clubhouse dining room and presented Hawkins with a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and acknowledged and applauded the accomplishment.

"It was a good moment, and I feel privileged to be a part of it, to be able to hand him the ball for his 1,000th," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

The night was special from the beginning. Hawkins was one of several Major Leaguers to help the Jackie Robinson West youth team with expenses for its trek to the Little League World Series, where it won the U.S. championship. The team was honored on the field at Dodger Stadium before the game. Hawkins grew up in Gary, Ind., and as a Little Leaguer played against the Jackie Robinson West program.

Hawkins also said a couple of former teammates -- he has many, having played on 10 teams, including making two tours with the Rockies -- made it even more special.

"One of the coolest things was my buddy, Eddie Guardado, and his family were in the stands -- Eddie hadn't been to a baseball game since he retired," said Hawkins, who was mentored by Guaradado when he broke in with the Twins in 1995. "He was one of the guys that was so consistent. We just followed him. His routine was so etched in stone that we followed him.

"And Glendon Rusch, one of my teammates in Chicago 10 years ago, gave me a bottle of Insignia 2000, and he signed it for me. He's a class act."

Hawkins began his career as a starter until going to the bullpen in 2000, and has pitched 1,428 2/3 career innings. The Rockies hold an option for 2015 worth $2.25 million.

"I do know I want to do it one more year, for sure," Hawkins said. "I would love for it to be here. I've been with 10 different teams, so you never know for sure. I would love to be back and I hope they would love to have me."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Morales' wild pitch spoils Hawkins' milestone night

Paulsen forced extra innings with game-tying homer in ninth

Morales' wild pitch spoils Hawkins' milestone night

LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies nearly made a milestone night for relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins one to savor, but fellow reliever Franklin Morales' wildness in the 12th inning made it another loss -- 6-5 to the Dodgers in 11 innings.

After Hawkins forced a Darwin Barney fly ball to end the eighth and became the 16th pitcher in history to make 1,000 appearances, pinch-hitter Ben Paulsen tied the game with a first-pitch homer off Paco Rodriguez -- Paulsen's fourth homer of the season and second in as many nights -- to lead off the top of the ninth.

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Hawkins, 41, who could return next season on a $2.25 million club option, is two appearances behind Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, in 15th place.

"I had a lot of managers that had a lot of faith in me, a lot of good teammates, a lot of good mentors in the game, and plenty of blessings from the man upstairs to stay healthy," Hawkins said.

Rockies reliever Matt Belisle pitched scoreless ball in the 10th and 11th. But the Rockies (66-95) -- who must win Sunday's regular-season finale to avoid finishing with the second-worst record in club history -- would fall to a Dodgers squad that has clinched the National League West.

Morales (6-9) gave up a Scott Van Slyke single and hit Tim Federowicz. Van Slyke stole third, and scored on a Morales wild pitch. It made a winner of righty Carlos Frias (1-1), who threw three scoreless and hitless innings.

Early, right-handed prospect Eddie Butler showed some of the promise that made Rockies fans anticipate his arrival -- before the Dodgers delivered harsh lessons, to the tune of five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Butler, 23, a supplemental first-round pick in 2012 out of Radford University, gave up Adrian Gonzalez's 26th homer of the season for a 1-0 deficit in the first. But he stayed just ahead of hitters and, thanks to 2010 No. 1 pick Kyle Parker's first career RBI on a double in the fourth and Rafael Ynoa's RBI single in the fifth, he carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth against the Dodgers and starter Dan Haren.

"My two-seamer worked early, but somewhere about the third inning it started going away -- I started losing the feel for everything," Butler said.

In the Dodger fifth, Yasiel Puig reached on a one-out fielder's choice, stole second and took third on catcher Michael McKenry's wild throw. Van Slyke singled through a drawn-in infield, and Matt Kemp added an RBI double. Andre Ethier would later add an RBI double. A.J. Ellis added an RBI single off Juan Nicasio for a 5-2 Dodgers lead.

Butler made his Major League debut against the Dodgers in a loss on June 6, but suffered a right rotator cuff strain in that game. After recovery and rehab he finished up in the Minors and two more Major League starts. But he will go to the Arizona Fall League next week to continue pitching to regain his form.

McKenry and Parker singled with one out in the sixth off Jamey Wright, and Charlie Culberson's RBI single cut the difference to two runs. McKenry opened the eighth with his eighth home run of the season, off Yimi Garcia.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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LeMahieu to undergo MRI on knee sprain

LeMahieu to undergo MRI on knee sprain

LOS ANGELES -- Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu will undergo an MRI on Monday to assess the damage in his sprained left knee, the Rockies said Saturday.

Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said he does not believe the injury will require surgery, but the club has ordered an MRI to make sure. LeMahieu reported that he had difficulty walking because of pain.

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LeMahieu sustained the injury sliding to field a ground ball during Friday night's 7-4 loss, and left the game when he could not push off the leg. LeMahieu, a Rawlings Gold Glove Award candidate, will end the season with a .267 batting average, five home runs, 42 RBIs, a .315 on-base percentage and a .348 slugging percentage in 149 games.

Nolan Arenado, the defending Gold Glove winner at third, and LeMahieu are considered the Rockies' legitimate candidates for Gold Gloves.

While the glove was consistently special, LeMahieu had better hitting before the All-Star break (.282, .351 OBP) than after (.246, .280). LeMahieu is called upon to handle the bat in the No. 8 spot in the order.

"He's establishing himself as a very steady, reliable player in this league, and there's a lot to be said for that," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "You're going to see him get better and better offensively. You're going to see him slug a little bit more -- I'm not talking about home runs, I'm talking about doubles. You're going to see him hit for a higher average. I believe that because of his instincts, his baseball instincts."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Dickerson's season ends as he awaits first child

Outfielder enjoyed breakout campaign, hitting .312 with 24 HRs, 76 RBIs

Dickerson's season ends as he awaits first child

DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson will spend the final days of his breakout season at home with his wife, Beth Anne, who is due to have the couple's first child, the club announced Friday.

Dickerson spent all but a few early-season days in the Majors, beginning as a part-time player but earning full-time duty on his way to hitting .312 with 24 home runs in 131 games.

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His 76 RBIs were second on the team behind Justin Morneau's 82.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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NL batting leader Morneau powers up in defeat

Average at .319 after 2-for-3 night; Lyles loses steam in sixth

NL batting leader Morneau powers up in defeat

LOS ANGELES -- Not that the Rockies wanted it, but they witnessed Friday night how a playoff team finds ways to ignite when a game seemingly is going the wrong way.

National League batting leader Justin Morneau's two-run homer helped the Rockies to a lead after three innings and righty Jordan Lyles seemingly had the game under control. But the NL West champion Dodgers scored six sixth-inning runs and won, 7-4, at Dodger Stadium.

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"They have a really good lineup -- that's why they won their division," Lyles said. "They've got a good pitching staff to go along with it. You've got to bear down on all eight guys in the lineup."

For what it's worth, the D-backs clinched last place in the NL West with their 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Cardinals on Friday night. The Rockies finished the last two seasons in the cellar.

Even in such a year, the Rockies have a player at the top of a significant individual list.

Morneau went 2-for-3 with his 17th homer of the season -- a shot to the opposite gap in left-center to drive in two of three third-inning runs against Dodgers starter Roberto Hernandez. Morneau lifted his batting average to .319. He is being trailed by two Pirates -- Josh Harrison at .318 and Andrew McCutchen at .314.

"It's very cool to see the season 'Morney' has put together, especially after all the stuff that he's been through," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, referring to a period of injury that started with a debilitating concussion Morneau suffered in 2010 with the Twins. "He's one of those guys you pull extra-hard for, and he's doing it down to the last out of the season."

Lyles (7-4) recorded all four of his strikeouts in the first five innings and entered the sixth with a 3-1 lead. But four of the first five batters singled, with Scott Van Slyke driving in a run and Justin Turner knocking in two. A key hit was Dee Gordon's bunt single -- his third hit -- to put runners at first and second. In the third, Gordon ended up with a double on a smash off Lyles' left foot that barely cleared the infield.

"This is the second or third time he's had an infield double off me," Lyles said.

Rockies lefty Franklin Morales entered but didn't retire a batter; instead he walked two and gave up two hits, including Juan Uribe's two-run single. Darwin Barney, who began the sixth with a single off Lyles, ended the scoring in the inning with a sacrifice fly against Rob Scahill.

Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who is considered a prime candidate for a Rawlings Gold Glove Award that would be the first of his career, left the game in the sixth with a left knee sprain -- suffered while fielding Turner's single in short center field. He is listed as day to day with two games left in the season.

Rockies reliever LaTroy Hawkins entered in the bottom of the eighth to record his 999th career appearance. He is 16th on the all-time pitching list.

Ben Paulsen, who took over for Morneau at first base in the bottom of the seventh, capped the scoring with a solo shot in the ninth.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Doyle enjoys time as hitting coach despite road numbers

Doyle enjoys time as hitting coach despite road numbers

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies hitting coach Blake Doyle spent well more than an hour Wednesday making underhand tosses and exchanged pleasantries with Rafael Ynoa and Cristhian Adames, two recent callups he's getting to know, and he worked in some hit-and-run advice. When veteran Justin Morneau stepped into the cage and blasted liner after liner, Doyle told him, "Your swing is the best it's ever been."

Doyle worked with most of the hitters, sweating and smiling. At 60, Doyle is on a Major League coaching staff for the first time and loving it. The team's record and the stat sheet, which is full of ugly road numbers that must improve if the Rockies hope to contend next season, can't dampen his joy.

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"I knew exactly what to expect," Doyle said. "What I did not expect is it going so quickly. I kept waiting for the grind. It never came.

"There's a reason for that -- the relationship I have with the guys, and the guys have with me, and the coaches' clubhouse. It was a lot of fun through a lot of adversity."

The road numbers make it seem as if the Rockies, whose injuries have have been a sad and continuing story, have nothing but adversity.

Going into Friday night's opener of a three-game set at Dodger Stadium to conclude the season, the Rockies have a .227 batting average, which is second-lowest in the National League and one point higher than the club record-low, in 2010. Colorado also ranks last in the NL in road runs with 241 and on-base percentage at .278, the lowest in club history. The 703 strikeouts are tops in team history.

Doyle doesn't hide from those numbers, but many other stats glow for the Rockies despite their 66-93 record (21-57 on the road). The overall batting average going into Thursday was tied with the Tigers for the Major League lead at .277 (Detroit had played one more game). The Rockies were third in the Majors with 741 runs.

"We've got guys that never give up," Doyle said. "We lead all of baseball in hitting when we're behind [at .279, 10 points better that second-best Tigers]. That is indicative of the kind of player that [manager] Walt [Weiss] wants on this team. When you're always fighting, there's no time to relax and there's no time to think about the bad stuff."

It's exactly what Weiss wanted after Dante Bichette resigned after one year to spend more time at home.

A Minor Leaguer in the '70s, Doyle and his brothers -- former Major Leaguers Denny and Brian -- built a business in Orlando tutoring players, from pee-wees to pros. One of those players was a young Weiss, whom Blake Doyle converted from pitcher to shortstop at age 14. Weiss and many other top-level players kept coming to Doyle throughout their pro careers. It was a greater volume of players than a Major League team -- even one like the Rockies, whose cast changed constantly because of injuries.

Weiss' reservation was the workload under Major League pressure, with travel and considered going to a hitting coach and an assistant the way other teams have. But Doyle believes he and Weiss are on the same page, and other voices might create confusion.

Weiss knew Doyle could handle it.

"He didn't have any first-hand experience as a Major League coach, but that never concerned me with him, because he's got all the attributes to be a great Major League coach," Weiss said. "He's a workhorse and he's got a gift in connecting with people and communicating. I knew it wouldn't take long to earn the players' trust."

Rockies history is full of hitters who see the same ball, which was a homer or an extra-base hit at home, land softly in a fielder's glove at the warning track on the road.

But the object is to score runs, even if players much set the batting average aside. The 2007 World Series team hit .261 on the road, but the team that made the postseason in 2009 hit .235. However, the Rockies managed 382 road runs in '07 and 340 in '09. The team must score at home and away without going to separate swings and approaches -- which would be foolish in a game based on routine.

Rockies hitters may need a confidant more than hitters on any other team.

"He keeps notes on each guy, what terminology guys like to use," said Morneau, who entered Thursday leading the NL in hitting at .317, just ahead of the Pirates' Josh Harrison (.316) and Andrew McCutchen (.313). "He's pretty observant as far as knowing what each guy is trying to do and trying to accomplish with their at-bats."

Whatever issue affects the club on the road, players insist Doyle's coaching isn't to blame.

"I don't think he has any control of that whatsoever -- it's our job," said Corey Dickerson, who has talked with Doyle about keeping his weight properly distributed, and used the advice to a .312 average with 76 RBIs. "When I'm batting, I'm not thinking of anything Blake or anyone else has said. I'm just trying to battle that pitcher.

"What we need to be able to do is put together better at-bats back-to-back, and get execution hits."

Doyle's desire to assist players in doing that isn't waning.

"All you need to do is follow me in October, November, December and January," said Doyle, who will return to the baseball school this winter. "This is easy in comparison."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rockies lose challenge on out call at plate

Ruling stands as Crawford's strong throw keeps Ynoa from scoring

Rockies lose challenge on out call at plate

LOS ANGELES -- Rafael Ynoa was an infielder in the Dodgers' system from 2006-13 without ever making it to Dodger Stadium. Now a Major Leaguer with the Rockies, Ynoa had plenty of screen time Friday night.

The Rockies challenged a call in the seventh inning, when Dodgers catcher Drew Butera was ruled to have tagged out Ynoa at the plate after receiving a strong throw from left fielder Carl Crawford. Rockies manager Walt Weiss challenged the ruling, and after a replay review, the out call stood, which came with the Dodgers leading, 7-3.

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The play, which occurred on Michael Cuddyer's single, was shown several times on video screens at Dodger Stadium. The crowd reaction was mixed until the final decision was rendered.

The result left Weiss 14-for-37 on instant-replay challenges this year.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Flande denied first big league win as offense struggles

Loss gives Rockies their worst road record in franchise history

Flande denied first big league win as offense struggles

SAN DIEGO -- The Rockies' road season was summed up best by Wilin Rosario's groundhog-ish Wednesday night. Rosario came up empty in scoring situations, twice with two out, in a 4-3 loss to the Padres at Petco Park. The defeat assured the Rockies of the worst road record in their history.

Rosario grounded into a fielder's choice with runners at first and second in the fourth. He popped to the shortstop, and Josh Rutledge flied solidly to center after him in the sixth. Finally, with runners at second and third with two down in the eighth, Rosario swung hopelessly at a Kevin Quackenbush curveball off the plate.

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It just happened to be Rosario's turn Wednesday to come up dry, but there have been lots of empty nights as the Rockies have gone 21-57 on the road.

But Charlie Blackmon, who led off the first with his 19th homer of the season (which ties the Brewers' Carlos Gomez for most in the Majors from the leadoff spot), noted that it's more difficult to produce when everyone isn't available. The Rockies have more playoff trips in their 22 years (three) than winning road seasons (one).

This year, the Rockies are going to finish with Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and, most likely, Nolan Arenado unable to finish the year in uniform because of injuries, and they missed Michael Cuddyer for significant periods.

"It wasn't like we had the No. 26 guy on the roster get hurt; we're talking big guns," Blackmon said. "Three times with runners in scoring position with two outs. Say we have Troy in the lineup; I won't say he's automatic, but he's the next best thing to that.

"Then again, the guys who are playing because he's not playing are playing pretty well. We hit some balls hard tonight. Rut [Rutledge] hit a ball hard. Barnes hit a ball hard. Rutledge hit some balls hard yesterday with guys on base. It's just bad luck."

Still, the Rockies have a chance to avoid the National League West cellar for the first time since 2011. They head into a season-ending three-game series with the Dodgers starting Friday two games better than the last-place D-backs.

After Blackmon put the Rockies ahead, Rockies lefty Yohan Flande (0-6), hoping to break into the win column to finish his rookie year, yielded Tommy Medica's three-run shot in the bottom of the first.

"He [Flande] has been pretty stingy early in games, but Medica got the barrel to that ball on the inner half and hit it out," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It's always tough to score runs here. That was a big shot."

The Padres led 4-1 in the sixth when Rafael Ynoa and Justin Morneau drew one-out walks from Padres starter Joe Wieland (1-0), who gave up three runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. Cuddyer and Corey Dickerson, who had three hits apiece, followed with RBI singles off R.J. Alvarez, but Rosario and Rutledge could not provide more scoring.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Catcher Williams undergoes knee surgery

Catcher Williams undergoes knee surgery

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies catcher Jackson Williams, who made his Major League debut this season and appeared in seven games, underwent surgery on his right meniscus Wednesday, the club announced.

Williams, who suffered the injury in a Sept. 19 game against the D-backs, hit .214 (3-for-14) with one home run and three RBIs.

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A supplemental first-round pick of the Giants (43rd overall) in 2007, Williams played in the Giants' system from 2007 to 13 before signing a Minor League deal with the Rockies this season. He played 72 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs and hit .256 with four home runs and 34 RBIs for the Sky Sox.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Brandon Barnes makes incredible grab in left field

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Brandon Barnes makes incredible grab in left field

In the second inning of Tuesday's Rockies-Padres game, Brandon Barnes made a great leaping catch. But that's not why we're here. We're here for his incredible, extra-base-hit saving grab in the eighth. We're here for him crashing into the wall, robbing a fan of a souvenir and getting REALLY pumped up about it.

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Fortunes split on pair of replay challenges

Fortunes split on pair of replay challenges

SAN DIEGO -- Padres manager Bud Black challenged a pair of close plays down the first-base line in the fourth inning of Wednesday's Padres-Rockies game, and he finished the frame 1-for-2.

With a man on first base and no one out, Padres left fielder Tommy Medica used the entire field for his fourth-inning double -- a double that wasn't even awarded until a review proved the ball had landed fair, kicking up chalk on the right-field foul line.

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But first-base umpire and crew chief Jerry Meals ruled the ball foul, prompting Padres first-base coach Jose Valentin to march toward Black in the dugout, asking for a challenge.

Turns out, Valentin got it right, and Medica was awarded second base after a review overturned the call. Yasmani Grandal went to third.

Grandal later scored, making it 4-1 Padres, but Medica was stranded after Padres pitcher Joe Wieland was tagged out trying to beat an infield grounder. Rockies shortstop Josh Rutledge threw wide to first base, but first baseman Justin Morneau applied a leaping swipe tag.

After a replay, the call was confirmed and Wieland was outl.

Black has now been successful on 17 of his 33 challenges this season.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Stubbs' go-ahead homer in eighth lifts Rockies

Center fielder adds to list of clutch hits with eighth game-winning RBI

Stubbs' go-ahead homer in eighth lifts Rockies

SAN DIEGO -- Drew Stubbs added to his growing resume of clutch hits with an eighth-inning leadoff homer to give the Rockies a 3-2 victory over the Padres on Tuesday night at Petco Park.

Stubbs' opposite-way homer to right off Padres reliever Dale Thayer (4-4) marked his eighth game-winning RBI this season. Stubbs, who has 15 homers overall this season, has as many go-ahead RBIs this season.

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"That's news to me -- I knew that I hit a few," said Stubbs, who had been unhappy with striking out two of his previous three at-bats. "When the game's on the line, guys tend to bear down a little bit more and lock in. Maybe that's the case for me, too."

Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "You watch him take BP and he hits the ball out of the park to all fields, so we've seen him shrink some big parks. He's had some big hits."

As much as Stubbs' homer won it, left fielder Brandon Barnes' second of two stellar catches saved it. Padres catcher Rene Rivera's eighth-inning leadoff shot to left off reliever Adam Ottavino looked headed into the stands before Barnes leaped to snatch it away from a fan and keep the game tied. Barnes also nabbed a hard Yasmani Grandal line drive in the second.

A native of nearby Orange County, Barnes had two hits, and kept good-natured dialogue with left-field patrons.

"One of the guys [in the stands] said, 'He's gonna hit a homer right here,' and I said, 'No, I'm gonna rob it,'" Barnes said. "I robbed it and when I got up, I said, 'I told you so.'

"That's fun. We're here for the fans."

Rivera said, "I hit it fine. He made a great catch. Sometimes you've just got to tip your hat."

Rawlings Gold Glove Award candidate DJ LeMahieu also prevented the tying run in the eighth with his diving stop of a hard Alexi Amarista grounder against reliever Christian Friedrich to end the frame with two runners stranded.

The 21st road victory of the season kept open the mathematic possibility that this year will not be a low-water mark. The Rockies will have to go unbeaten in the final four games -- Wednesday's finale of three with the Padres, plus three at Dodger Stadium -- to match the previous road worst, 25-56, in 2003.

But the Rockies are three games ahead of the D-backs, who lost to the Twins, 6-3, on Tuesday and are last in the National League West. If that condition remains, the Rockies will end their run of two basement finishes.

Although he didn't figure in the decision and didn't hold a lead in his final inning, lefty No. 1 starter Jorge De La Rosa ended his 2014 with six effective-enough innings. He gave up seven hits and waked four, but handled the traffic with seven strikeouts and two double plays -- one on Alexi Amarista's line drive to end the second, another on Rivera's grounder in the fourth.

The Rockies had given De La Rosa, who finished the year 4-9 on the road but 14-11 overall, a 2-0 lead on Justin Morneau's RBI single in the third and LeMahieu's RBi single in the fourth, both off Padres starter Robbie Erlin. But with two out and one on in the sixth, De La Rosa gave up consecutive hits to Tommy Medica, Rymer Liriano and Amarista, with the last two driving in a run apiece.

"I was having a little trouble with my command, especially the breaking ball, but I got through the sixth inning," De La Rosa said.

Juan Nicasio (6-6) gave up one hit in the seventh but forced Jedd Gyorko into an inning-ending double-play grounder. It was Nicasio's 12th scoreless outing in 15 bullpen appearances. He began the year in the starting rotation before being optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs and being converted to relief.

In his 998th career appearance, LaTroy Hawkins overcame Will Venable's leadoff walk in the ninth -- on an 11-pitch at-bat -- and his steal of second to earn his 23rd save of the season.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Chacin takes step forward in comeback

Chacin takes step forward in comeback

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin's 2014 season was lost three months ago, but his push toward 2015 took a major step Tuesday when he scaled the mound for a throwing session.

Chacin threw with his catcher standing in front of the plate. The next step is a full bullpen session Friday in Los Angeles, with an eye toward winter ball in Venezuela. Chacin last pitched on June 28 before the Rockies shut him down with a slight labrum tear and rotator cuff damage. He and the Rockies settled on a strengthening and rehab program rather than surgery.

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"I've been really working for two months, strengthening and really working hard," Chacin said. "I've been pain-free and throwing long-toss every day. Today was a really good day for me -- long-toss, flat ground and off the mound. I'm really happy."

Chacin hopes to be healthy enough to be a game-changer next season. He went 14-10 with a 3.47 ERA last year and was expected to lead the staff along with lefty Jorge De La Rosa. But Chacin showed up in Spring Training with a right shoulder strain, didn't pitch in a Major League game until May 4 and was 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 starts before he and the club decided to try again next year.

Chacin is not sure when he'll make his first start for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League. He'll need continued bullpen sessions and simulated games, at a place to be determined, before then. But Chacin is enthusiastic about gearing up for what will be a huge 2015 season.

This will be the final offseason of arbitration for Chacin, who is at the end of a two-year, $6.5 million deal. After next year, he's eligible for free agency for the first time.

"I want to get healthy and be the guy I was before, so I really don't worry about the contract," Chacin said. "I was worried before, especially when my arm was hurting. But now I'm calm, and I am going step by step. I'll get some innings this winter, after I'm 100 percent.

De La Rosa, a friend as well as colleague, signed a two-year, $25 million contract recently.

"I was talking to him [De La Rosa] and he always said, 'I really miss you; when we got together in the past, it was a really good year,'" Chacin said. "I know what I can do when my arm feels fine. I'll definitely be ready for Spring Training."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rockies open to Betancourt's return in 2015

Rockies open to Betancourt's return in 2015

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss is keeping the door open for right-handed closer Rafael Betancourt to compete for a Major League job next season. Betancourt had 57 saves, fifth-most in club history, from 2009 until he suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery last year.

Betancourt, who turns 40 next April 29, signed a Minor League deal with the Rockies and worked his way to Triple-A Colorado Springs, but was not called up to finish the season because he hadn't progressed to throwing consecutive days.

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Before the injury-filled 2013 season, Betancourt was a key veteran leader in the bullpen. It's possible Betancourt and righty closer LaTroy Hawkins, who has a mutual option for 2015, could give the Rockies two 40-plus relievers next season. If Betancourt is interested in continuing, and he has never hinted at retirement, Weiss would like to see about bringing him back. Betancourt is eligible for free agency.

"Just on makeup alone, I like what he brings from that standpoint," Weiss said.

Betancourt said he doesn't know what the Rockies' official plan is -- Weiss and club officials will meet after the season to discuss their offseason strategy -- but he is already planning for 2015.

"Of course I'll come back to pitch -- that's why I had the surgery," Betancourt said Tuesday. "I've already started my offseason workout.

"I understand the situation [at the end of this season]. Maybe it was too early for me to pitch, but I know I can do it. I'm going to keep preparing myself."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rockies shift Northwest League affiliation to Boise

Rockies shift Northwest League affiliation to Boise

SAN DIEGO -- The Rockies shifted their Northwest League (Short-Season Class A) affiliation to Boise, Idaho, and on Tuesday officially announced a four-year player development contract with the Boise Hawks.

The Rockies had been affiliated with Tri-City (Pasco, Wash.) for 14 seasons, after placing squads in Bend, Ore. (1992-94) and Portland (1995-2000). Tuesday's announcement completes a series of affiliation shifts within the last week. Triple-A shifted from Colorado Springs, which had been the Rockies' only affiliate in 22 years of fielding teams at that level, to Albuquerque. The Double-A affiliation also changed, from Tulsa to New Britain, Conn.

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Rockies chief baseball officer Dan O'Dowd, player development director Jeff Bridich and vice president of communications Jay Alves were in Boise for Tuesday's press conference at the Boise Chamber of Commerce.

According to the Purple Row blog, which covers the club and its Minor League affiliates and analyzes statistics, Boise's ballpark is 2,730 feet above sea level, which makes it 2,400 feet higher than Gesa Stadium, where the Tri-City team played. Humidity in Boise also is lower. The elevation and drier climate, and the fact left-handed hitters don't face the in-blowing winds they did at the former affiliate's stadium, are thought to help hitters, the blog analyzed.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rockies win game, lose ninth-inning challenge

Rockies win game, lose ninth-inning challenge

SAN DIEGO -- A beeline throw from Padres catcher Rene Rivera erased Rockies potential basestealer Brandon Barnes at second base in the top of the ninth inning -- and withstood a replay challenge -- on Tuesday night in Colorado's 3-2 win.

The Rockies had a 3-2 lead with one out when Barnes took off on a Blaine Boyer pitch to DJ LeMahieu. Despite Barnes' quick jump, Rivera's throw made it in time for Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista to make the tag on Barnes' back just before Barnes' left hand reached the bag.

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Second-base umpire Jerry Meals' call was confirmed after a review. Manager Walt Weiss is 14-for-36 on replay challenges this season.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rockies' road woes live on despite Matzek's gem

Lefty allows a run in six innings, but Colorado bats can't get clutch hit

Rockies' road woes live on despite Matzek's gem

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies rookie pitcher Tyler Matzek doesn't have far to go home when the season ends Sunday. His Mission Viejo, Calif., home is between Petco Park -- where he threw his sixth straight strong start in a 1-0 loss to the Padres on Monday night -- and Los Angeles, where the Rockies conclude the year with a weekend series with the Dodgers.

Matzek (6-11) struck out eight and held the Padres to one run in six innings on Monday. After debuting on June 11 to help an injury-affected pitching staff, Matzek went through growing pains. But in his final half-dozen starts, he went 4-2 with a 1.55 ERA in 40 2/3 innings with 38 strikeouts and 14 walks.

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"I wouldn't mind if the season kept going," said Matzek, 23, who punctuated the outing by ignoring a developing blister, striking out two with the bases loaded to end the sixth.

As for Rockies hitters, the only way they could possibly welcome the season continuing is if all games were played at Coors Field. This is a road season the Rockies need to end.

Before Monday, the Rockies had tied a season high by winning six straight, but all those were at Coors Field. The last road trip, however, was a winless six-gamer and Monday's loss took their road skid to eight games. At 20-56 on the road, the Rockies will need to win all five remaining games -- two more with the Padres, three with the National League West-leading Dodgers -- to merely tie the 2003 club, whose 25-56 away record sits as worst in franchise history.

The Rockies outhit the Padres, 10-5, but went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and saw three threats fizzle.

Padres starter Eric Stults (8-17) fanned Josh Rutledge with the bases loaded to end the fifth. Reliever Nick Vincent escaped with two on in the seventh when right fielder Rymer Liriano nabbed Rutledge's liner.

Finally, Justin Morneau, whose two hits brought his batting average to an NL-leading .320 (two points higher than the Pirates' Josh Harrison), doubled off Frank Garces to open the eighth, but Michael Cuddyer and Corey Dickerson popped to infielders and Michael McKenry flied to center.

"If we would have had some guys on base earlier -- and we only did that two or three times -- we would have been able to do something," Dickerson said.

Rene Rivera's two-out RBI double in the first, after Jedd Gyorko had walked, provided the only Padres run.

Matzek faced bases loaded and one out in the sixth, but fanned Tommy Medica with a changeup and two fastballs, and caught Liriano looking at a third-strike slider. Matzek had abandoned the slider earlier in the inning because of the blister, but, "I just said, whatever, I'm going to rip on it right here. I didn't care that the blister was there."

Manager Walt Weiss said, "He did a great job, especially getting through that sixth, making some pitches at the big part of the game."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Bergman, Butler headed to Arizona Fall League

Bergman, Butler headed to Arizona Fall League

DENVER -- Rockies rookie right-handers Christian Bergman and Eddie Butler will be among the four pitchers that will represent the organization in the Arizona Fall League, the club announced Monday.

The Rockies also will send Minor League left-handers Jayson Aquino and Kenny Roberts. They will play for the Salt River Rafters. The position players from the Rockies' organization were announced earlier.

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Bergman (3-4, 5.29 ERA in nine starts) and Butler (1-1, 5.56 in two starts) each missed significant time with injuries -- Bergman with a broken left hand, Butler with a right rotator cuff strain. With both expected to be in competition for rotation spots in Spring Training 2015, the Fall League will give them an opportunity to acquire timing and consistency, and work on specific assignments.

Bergman, 27, a 2010 24th-round Draft pick out of the University of California, Irvine, suffered his injury when hit with a line drive during his third Major League start, on June 20. Since returning to the Majors Aug. 4, he is 3-2 with a 4.46 ERA in six starts, but has given up fewer than three runs in four of those games. Bergman arrived with a good changeup that offsets his fastball and cutter, but he wants even more diversity.

"I want to make up for the time that I lost and also work on some stuff -- I want to develop my curveball," he said. "It's probably my fourth pitch, but I'd like to bring it up to the level my other offspeed is."

Butler, 23, a supplemental first-round Draft pick out of Radford University in 2012, suffered his injury in his Major League debut, a loss to the Dodgers on June 6. He spent most of the rest of the year rehabbing and helping Double-A Tulsa to the Texas League Championship Series. But Butler returned Saturday and held the D-backs to one run in six innings for his first Major League win.

"I just need to get my arm slot consistent -- that's been the big thing this year," Butler said. "I've found it, but now it's getting it consistent again."

Aquino, 21, went a combined 5-10 with a 5.13 ERA this season in 16 starts at Class A Modesto and two at Tulsa. Aquino dealt with early-season shoulder stiffness.

Roberts, 26, went 9-2 with a 2.30 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 20 walks in 78 1/3 innings at Tulsa this season. The Rockies selected Roberts in the 25th round in 2010 out of Middle Tennessee State.

Rockies Fall League-bound position players are catcher Chris O'Dowd (Tulsa), catcher-first baseman Ryan Casteel (Tulsa), middle infielder Taylor Featherston (Tulsa) and shortstop Trevor Story (Tulsa). Also, Tulsa manager Kevin Riggs will be hitting coach for Salt River.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rox finish final homestand with sweep of D-backs

Ynoa leads potent offense with three RBIs and Cuddyer homers

Rox finish final homestand with sweep of D-backs

DENVER -- Dominating at home has been manager Walt Weiss' objective since Day 1 on the job. And while it's easy to call it too little too late, the Rockies at least ended their season at Coors Field on the right note Sunday.

The Rockies topped the D-backs, 8-3, on Sunday to complete the four-game sweep of Arizona and extend their winning streak to six games. The win also pushes the Rockies record to 17-5 over their last three homestands of 2014.

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The Rockies outscored their opposition 161-109 over that stretch, including a 61-19 margin over their final six games at home.

"I'm glad we finished with a strong homestand as a little token of appreciation to the fans who have been hanging in there with us," Weiss said. "We feel like, soon enough, we're going to give them something to cheer about in September."

Colorado cruised out to a 6-0 lead in the first five innings as four different players logged RBIs. Brandon Barnes and Rafael Ynoa each had two-run doubles in that span with the latter of the two coming in the first at-bat after Randall Delgado took over for Wade Miley.

After the D-backs got two back in the sixth from Mark Trumbo's homer off right-hander Christian Bergman, the Rockies rallied for two more in the seventh.

One of those runs came in form of a home run from Michael Cuddyer to lead off the inning. The blast extended the Rockies streak of homering in home games to 22 straight, the longest such streak by a Major League team since the Phillies homered in 22 consecutive from July 24 to Sept. 3 in 2006.

"We're still playing the games hard and we're still playing good baseball," Cuddyer said. "That's big. It's good to see these guys still trying to play the game right."

Trumbo's first homer produced the only runs Bergman would allow, but it also put an end to his effective outing with two outs in the sixth. He finished his day striking out three without issuing a walk to collect his third career win.

Bergman was only at 67 pitches at the time he was pulled but Weiss didn't want to risk anything with a handful of lefties coming up in Arizona's lineup.

"Obviously I want to stay in the game," Bergman said. "It was still pretty early. But it is what it is."

Miley only lasted 4 1/3 for Arizona, surrendering six runs on eight hits and four walks.

"They came out ready to play," Miley said. "I guess we had a battle in the trenches for the last place team I guess and they really didn't want to be there and they took care of that."

The Rockies finish the season with 500 runs scored at Coors Field, their highest mark since they scored 517 at home in 2003.

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Weiss disappointed with Rockies' home record

Weiss disappointed with Rockies' home record

DENVER -- Over their last three homestands, the Rockies have compiled a 17-5 record. A sweep of the D-backs gave the team a 46-36 home record to finish the year. But for manager Walt Weiss, that's not taking advantage of the Coors Field nearly enough.

"I think early on we were good here," Weiss said before Sunday's game. "And as the season went south, it went south here too. It wasn't as much of an advantage playing at home … I mean, we were OK. But we've got to be a lot better than OK."

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Weiss said the Rockies need to win a "minimum of 50 games" at Coors Field "to even be in the conversation for the division." Ideally, he's looking for a home win total of something closer to "52 to 53" per season.

To put that into perspective, the Rockies franchise record for home wins is 55, set back in 1996. Overall, the Rockies have only reached the 50-win mark at home four times, two of which came during the team's most recent Wild Card seasons (2007 and 2009).

Weiss said the goal is to be "offensively overwhelming teams" at Coors Field, something the Rockies have done over their past five home games while outscoring the opposition 53-16.

"The opposing pitcher, for the most part, feels vulnerable here," Weiss said. "That's one of the biggest advantages for us offensively … They don't like to pitch here and we've got to be able to take advantage of that."

In June, the Rockies were the ones being taken advantage of at home. Over their 16 home games in that month, Colorado was outscored 120-89.

Weiss knows that's unacceptable if his team is going to have a chance.

"We've got to be playing at the highest level here for the span of six months to be a playoff team," Weiss said.

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Ynoa seizing his Major League opportunity

Ynoa seizing his Major League opportunity

DENVER -- When you spend nine seasons in the Minors, you better not waste your big league chance when you get it.

Rafael Ynoa falls into that category, and he certainly has taken advantage of his opportunity. If you need proof, just look at his inside-the-park homer attempt in Friday's 15-3 win over the D-backs.

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Unfortunately, D-backs shortstop Chris Owings ended up gunning him out on the relay throw, forcing Ynoa to settle for a two-run triple. But the all-out effort was there -- so much so that Ynoa incorrectly tried to call time following the tag by D-backs catcher Miguel Montero.

"He should have called time right after [third-base coach Stu Cole] starting sending him," manager Walt Weiss said. "I told him his legs are way too short to run that far."

What Ynoa isn't short on is versatility -- and that aspect of his game has made quite the impression on Weiss so far.

Friday's 4-for-5 performance, which included two doubles and three RBIs, brought Ynoa's average up to .417 (15-for-36) in the 11 games since his Major League debut on Sept. 1. He's done it all -- bouncing around the diamond between second, shortstop and third, where he made his second straight start on Saturday.

"He's been a good pickup for us," Weiss said. "He's come up here and taken advantage of the opportunity, especially with Nolan [Arenado] being down."

Ynoa also offers something the Rockies have lacked all season: a switch-hitter.

In his debut, Ynoa became only the fourth switch-hitter since 1974 to get hits from both sides of the plate in his first two big league at-bats. This backs up the ability he displayed in the Minors at Triple-A Colorado Springs this season, as he batted .309 (102-for-330) as a left-handed hitter and .288 (38-for-132) as a right-handed hitter.

Weiss compared Ynoa to Jonathan Herrera on Saturday, another switch-hitting utility man who carved out a nice niche in five seasons with the Rockies. If Ynoa keeps it up, he'll make a strong case to be a part of the Rockies' bench next season.

"He gives us some versatility," Weiss said. "We didn't know a whole lot about him when he came to Spring Training. But our pro scouts did a really good job finding him. He went down and had a nice year for us in Triple-A. He played really well toward the end of the season to put himself in the mix."

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Butler stymies D-backs to pick up first win

Rookie allows one run over six; Dickerson, Rutledge drive in two apiece

Butler stymies D-backs to pick up first win

DENVER -- Although Saturday certainly had the feel of a do-over for Eddie Butler, they don't give out mulligans for Major League debuts. That didn't stop the Rockies' right-hander from taking advantage of his second chance.

Butler looked the part of the Rockies' No. 2-ranked prospect in a 5-1 victory over the D-backs at Coors Field, as he secured his first Major League win in his second career start.

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"It was a nice bounceback after having one start and missing a lot of time," manager Walt Weiss said. "Going out there today and putting us in a position to win the game, he did a nice job."

Butler's first crack at the rotation came on June 6. But after surrendering six runs on 10 hits to the Dodgers in 5 1/3 innings, he landed on the disabled list with right rotator cuff inflammation. The Rockies then decided to send Butler back down to Double-A Tulsa to continue to hone his craft, before recalling him earlier this week.

The extra fine-tuning apparently paid off in a big way, as Butler baffled the D-backs for six innings, scattering five hits and a walk. One of those hits was a solo homer by Jake Lamb. It would end up being the only run Butler would allow over 81 pitches.

"I wasn't quite as anxious," Butler said. "[Catcher Michael McKenry] had a good game plan, and I just followed him around all day."

Butler was aggressive early and often against Arizona, attacking in with his two-seamer while elevating the occasional four-seam fastball.

"He mixed it up, and I don't think we made some adjustments we needed to make," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Gotta give him credit."

Corey Dickerson gave the rookie some run support in the first, as his two-out triple scored Justin Morneau. Dickerson would also blast a solo shot in the fifth for his team-leading 24th homer. He finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Josh Rutledge homered off D-backs right-hander Trevor Cahill in the third, as the Rockies jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Cahill struck out eight, while walking none, during his five innings of work. But the Rockies reached him for five runs on 10 hits -- including six of the extra-base variety.

The win moved the Rockies' record to 16-5 over their last three homestands. It also put the team two games ahead of the D-backs in the race to stay out of the National League West cellar, a small "consolation" for Weiss in an otherwise frustrating season.

"Any way you slice it, it's not going to be a very good season," Weiss said. "But we talked about just playing to the finish line and playing to the last out in L.A. And that's what guys are doing. It's good to see."

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rockies moving Triple-A, Double-A affiliates

DENVER -- The Rockies announced changes in affiliates on Wednesday, shifting their Triple-A affiliate to Albuquerque and moving their Double-A affiliate to New Britain, Conn.

The Albuquerque Isotopes were affiliated with the Dodgers, who on Wednesday purchased the Oklahoma City franchise as their Triple-A affiliate.

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Although the Rockies have spent 22 years in Colorado Springs, they have some history in Albuquerque. They played exhibitions at 11,124-seat Isotopes Park before the 2005 and '06 seasons. Rockies officials like the stadium, which opened in '03, and through negotiations have developed a working relationship with the franchise operators -- among them managing partner Ken Young and general manager John Traub.

Colorado Springs was convenient, at a little more than an hour from Denver, but Albuquerque is only an hour and a half away by plane.

The Double-A affiliation began to change Wednesday, when the Tulsa Drillers, who made the Texas League Championship Series as a Rockies affiliate before losing to Midland, announced a two-year player development contract with the Dodgers. The Dodgers left Chattanooga. The Twins, who previously had their Double-A franchise in New Britain, reached an agreement to move to Chattanooga.

It's not the first time the Rockies have been affiliated with a Connecticut team at Double-A. New Haven was the team's farm club from 1994-98.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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