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Notes: Rockies hoping home is sweet

Notes: Rockies hoping home is sweet

DENVER -- The Rockies accomplished enough while going 4-5 on their just-completed road trip to believe they're capable of turning into something other than the same old club that has finished with six straight losing seasons.

Rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hasn't experienced much of the losing. He was around last September, but that's about it. Tulowitzki, who has hit safely in 11 of the last 12 games, doesn't want losing to become a personal experience.

"Something I always think about is trying to turn around the whole outlook of this organization," said Tulowitzki, who has had a turnaround of his own, going from .185 to .248 and scoring 12 runs and driving in nine in his last 12 games. "In the past, it looks like things have gotten out of hand and we couldn't quite recover, or we couldn't get over the hump.

"It's coming the time of the season where we have to turn it around here. We can get close and get back into it."

Which brings us to the 10-game, 11-day homestand that started Thursday night against the Giants. By first pitch, the Rockies were last in the National League West, 5 1/2 games behind the Dodgers. Almost as important, they were six games under .500.

May 10 is early, but without a hot streak, it'll get late quickly. Home is a good place for it to happen. Through Wednesday, the Rockies were tied with the Phillies for most road games in baseball at 21.

It used to be that big homestands were a given. Not only did the Rockies populate their lineup with veteran sluggers in the mid-to-late '90s, but they paid little attention to how baseballs were stored.

By keeping them in a chamber that prevents them from hardening and shrinking in the Colorado atmosphere, they've negated some of the cheap home runs that drove opposing pitchers nuts. Nonetheless, the Rockies need to regain a home-field advantage. They entered Thursday 6-7 at home.

"Especially with the first seven games against the NL West [four against the Giants, three against the Diamondbacks], we need to get on some kind of streak," said third baseman Garrett Atkins, who entered batting .256 and needing to get hot. "I hope the park plays like a hitter's park ... well, when we're hitting."

Looking for signs: During the road trip, the starting pitching was spotty at best. The bullpen was more up than down, but nothing approaching consistent. The offense didn't take advantage of all the opportunities it had.

Nonetheless, manager Clint Hurdle saw signs the Rockies are ready to be competitive.

"Regardless what happened to us, we kept pushing," Hurdle said. "We need to develop a mind-set here, an identity. When people come here, we need to let people know we're going to get after it. We're going to battle, whatever it takes.

"Find a way. It doesn't matter who you are, what you are. Doesn't matter who we got, who we don't got."

Who they don't got: Center fielder Willy Taveras was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game because of a strained right groin. However, Taveras practiced running from first to third and declared himself close to being able to start. He still could appear as a pinch-hitter.

Second baseman Kazuo Matsui, on the disabled list since April 15 with a strained back, did agility drills before Thursday's game and participated in batting practice, but he is not running at full speed and hasn't reached the point that he is discussing an injury rehab assignment.

Righty reliever Ramon Ramirez, out with a sprained elbow, will appear for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday and Sunday on a rehab assignment. Righties Rodrigo Lopez and LaTroy Hawkins, each out with forearm strains, will face Rockies hitters in a live batting-practice session Friday.

Off tap: The Rockies removed beer taps from both clubhouses and the pressbox, which was open after games. All packaged alcohol has been removed from the clubhouses as well, and the team will not serve it on return flights to Denver because personnel will be driving after they land.

Many clubs are reviewing their alcohol policies, especially when players are involved, after the alcohol-related death of Cardinals relief pitcher Josh Hancock.

Hancock was drinking at a local bar before his fatal automobile crash, but since then, teams have asked themselves if it's wise to allow players to drink in the stadium, as has been tradition.

"As an organization, we thought it was the right decision," said Jay Alves, the Rockies' vice president of communications and public relations.

Hurdle said, "I understand these guys are grown men. They have decisions to make. Well, the other shift is the people that are running the clubhouse have decisions to make, also. I don't see any harm being done."

Up next: Rockies right-hander Josh Fogg (1-3, 5.67 ERA) will face the Giants and rookie righty Tim Lincecum (0-0, 10.39) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. MT.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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