Rockies fall to Mets as injuries mount

Rockies fall to Mets as injuries mount

DENVER -- Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday finished Saturday afternoon feeling numb.

If he had felt that way because of yet another galling loss -- a 9-2 defeat at the hands of the Mets at Coors Field in front of 38,142 -- that would be OK. But the reason he didn't have much feeling was ominous for a Rockies club that's hurting all over the field.

Holliday pulled up while running toward first on a ninth-inning groundout. The Rockies already had placed shortstop Clint Barmes (sprained right knee) and right fielder Brad Hawpe (strained right hamstring) on the disabled list on Saturday morning and were without third baseman Garrett Atkins (stiff neck) and center fielder Willy Taveras (bruised right knee) during the game.

Colorado called Holliday's injury a slight strain of the left hamstring. With the injuries and the fact the wheels came off No. 1 starter Jeff Francis (1-5) during a five-run first inning on Saturday, the Rockies are feeling the strain of being 19-30.

"It grabbed me a little bit, so we'll see how it feels tomorrow," Holliday said. "I can't really say how it feels right now. I've got ice all over it."

The Rockies are down two shortstops, with Troy Tulowitzki out since April 29 with a torn left quadriceps ligament. Entering Sunday's finale of this three-game set with the Mets needing a victory for a winning record on their nine-game homestand, Colorado could be without Holliday, Atkins and Taveras, plus those players on the DL.

Given that the DL roster also includes starting pitcher Jason Hirsh, primary right-handed setup man Luis Vizccaino, left-handed reliever Micah Bowie and right-hander Kip Wells, the Rockies can ill afford to lose Holliday, who is batting .324 and tied Atkins for the team lead in home runs with his eighth, off Claudio Vargas in the first inning on Saturday.

The Rockies made the call to Triple-A Colorado Springs for two prospects who started Saturday, Seth Smith (0-for-4) and Ian Stewart (0-for-3, walk). And they'll press on with the players they have.

"Don't feel sorry for us," Holliday said.

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The Rockies weren't flooded with sympathy cards when they lost three of their five starting rotation members late last season, yet made a late-season run that landed them in the World Series.

Francis seemed on his way back to the form he used to win 44 games from 2005-07 when he won his last start, on Sunday against the Twins.

But in Saturday's first inning, Francis gave up a leadoff single and two walks before Carlos Beltran cleared the bases with a double. Ramon Castro added an RBI single and Nick Evans an RBI double. Evans, in his Major League debut, would knock three doubles, including one to drive in a run in the eighth.

"My body felt good," said Francis, who displayed rough mechanics, pitches high in the strike zone and a lack of ability to change speeds during a 37-pitch first inning. "I guess I was trying to get too much out of it, and I was trying to make pitches that were too good. The balls got the better part of the plate, and they took advantage of them."

Francis would last six innings and tie a season high with eight strikeouts. Much of that good pitching came too late, though.

"That's the frustrating part, that I'm always fighting myself," Francis said. "If I go out there and execute, I'll have a good game. It's not them beating me. It's me beating myself. That's the frustrating part about it."

In the second inning, David Wright homered off Francis. Wright is hitting .667 (6-of-9) with three homers against Francis, who dispensed with the consternation and hit the Mets third baseman in the fourth.

"The bad news was, we dug a hole a pretty good size for us," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "We need better from Jeff from that. The good news was, he was able to find some rhythm, reestablish his command and repeat his delivery late in the game."

Vargas held the Rockies to two runs on four hits in seven innings, with three strikeouts and a walk. The Mets would add three runs off relievers, including a Carlos Delgado homer off Josh Newman in the ninth that moved the Mets first baseman past Andre Dawson into sole possession of the 35th spot on the all-time homers list.

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