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Rockies' playoff hopes take big hit

Rockies' playoff hopes take big hit

DENVER -- Ubaldo Jimenez couldn't find the strike zone Saturday night, and the Rockies couldn't find their offense in a 10-2 loss to the Marlins at Coors Field.

With a series loss and their third straight defeat, the Rockies' playoff chances could be a lost cause. They are fourth in the National League Wild Card standings and trail the front-running Padres by 4 1/2 games with 14 games to go.

"I don't think we're going to go out and play like we're desperate, but I think we realize where we sit, and how many games are left and what we have to do," first baseman Todd Helton said. "[We need to] get a little bit lucky, but we're going to have to start winning some ballgames."

Colorado's downfall during its three-game losing streak has been its starting pitching. Jeff Francis gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings on Thursday in Philadelphia, then Josh Fogg lasted five innings Friday night, but gave up four runs. And Jimenez had his second shortest outing of his career Saturday night, lasting only three innings.

Jimenez (3-4) walked the game's first batter, Hanley Ramirez, on four pitches and never found his command. He threw 69 pitches -- only 38 for strikes -- walking four and giving up five runs (two earned) on five hits.

"I couldn't find the strike zone with my fastball or any of my breaking pitches," Jimenez said. "I was trying to take my time between pitches, do anything, but I just couldn't find it."

Jimenez hurt his own cause in the third, when he didn't catch a Helton throw while covering first on a Jeremy Hermida ground ball. Jimenez struck out Miguel Cabrera, which would have ended the inning, but the Marlins added on three runs with two outs.

The Rockies had life in the fifth, trailing, 5-0, when they loaded the bases with two outs. A wild pitch from Sergio Mitre allowed Clint Barmes to score Colorado's first run. Mitre loaded the bases again by walking Matt Holliday.

Marlins reliever Renyel Pinto came in to face Helton, who grounded out weakly to first on an 0-2 count to end the inning.

"Terrible swing," Helton said. "Just a bad swing. I pulled off of it."

The Marlins pulled away when Miguel Cabrera hit his first career grand slam in the sixth for a 9-1 lead.

The Rockies' defeat marked their second series loss at home since mid-May. They hadn't lost three straight since a season-high eight-game losing streak June 22-29.

C.J. Moore 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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