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Francis foiled again as Rox fall in extras

Francis gets no-decision in loss

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LOS ANGELES -- Troy Tulowitzki's mouth worked into the grin one has when there's nothing to smile about but frowning does no good.

The Rockies lost to the Dodgers, 3-2, in 10 innings Sunday afternoon. It was their seventh defeat in eight games, with all but one of the losses winnable. Tulowitzki and several teammates had chances to come through at Dodger Stadium on Sunday before 50,670.

Instead, they suffered a sweep in a three-game series that included two extra-inning contests.

No wonder that man wasn't really smiling. At 10-15, which includes a 1-4 record in extra innings, the Rockies have to feel at some point their execution and the law of averages will turn the results the other way.

"I hope so," Tulowitzki said. "I mean, it's getting old, I'll tell you that."

For those wanting to look at the standings, the defending National League champion Rockies are eight games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West. They're looking up at the Giants, whom they face in a three-game series starting Monday night -- with stalwarts Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum going against them in the first two games.

For those wanting to not get bent out of shape, the Rockies had the exact same record at this point last year.

Sunday's game was the type that championship teams win, and the kind struggling clubs lose.

They wasted Jeff Francis' third straight start of seven innings. He gave up five hits and two fourth-ining runs -- one on a single by Dodgers starting pitcher Esteban Loaiza, the other a bloop single by Rafael Furcal on a difficult pitch to hit.

"I try to go out there and make my pitches, but one inning every time out there I get myself into trouble," Francis said.

However, Francis has pitched well enough to win each of his last three starts, yet he doesn't have a "W" and the Rockies have lost two of those games. It's hard for any pitcher to overcome poor offensive execution that led to 11 being left on base.

Especially galling were the at-bats the Rockies had against Loaiza, who has been in and out of the Dodgers rotation. Loaiza's 83 mph fastball took him through four scoreless innings before the Rockies scored twice with two out in the fifth, on Willy Taveras' RBI double and Todd Helton's RBI single.

"He's the same old guy -- you can't let a guy do what he did to you," said Helton, who went 2-for-3 with two walks. "He's throwing 83 mph. He did locate the ball, [but] we've got to have better at-bats."

Tulowitzki grounded into a double play to end an eighth inning rife with poor execution. Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins, who extended his hit streak to 12 games with a 10th-inning single, didn't knock the ball out of the infield, although Holliday was spared by an error.

Helton flied out with two outs and two on in the ninth. The Rockies had two on with one out in the 10th, but Tulowitzki and Jeff Baker didn't come through against winning pitcher Joe Beimel (1-0).

Finally, Manuel Corpas (0-2) pitched a strong ninth, with a strikeout and a double-play grounder, but walked Furcal and pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney to open the 10th, and eventually lost it on James Loney's bases-loaded single.

"We left men on base the last five innings, at least one," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "We had some opportunities.

"We didn't nail down the offensive side of it. Eight of the last nine games we've been knocking on the door all the way through. It's come down to, pure and simple, the execution part of it, whether it be off the mound or at the plate. We've been our own biggest enemy so far."

The Rockies best move toward success could be a matter of merely believing they're close to it. Tulowitzki, for example, went 0-for-5 to drop to .157 but hit several balls hard and insists he's not tensing up in pressure situations.

"It's definitely tough, but it's there and it's not going to change unless I get some hits," Tulowitzki said. "I think I'm pretty relaxed and not beating myself up. I'm trying to stick with it. It's going to turn around."

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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