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Rockies' skid reaches seven

Rockies' skid reaches seven

DENVER -- Thanks to a put-it-all-together performance from Dodgers rookie left-hander Clayton Kershaw on Saturday, the fans at Coors Field got a big whiff of why the Rockies have gone from World Series participant in 2007 to sub-.500 in 2008.

Kershaw, who had dropped his previous two starts to the Rockies, fanned seven in six innings and the Rockies struck out 13 times in all. The 5-1 Dodgers victory in front of 40,291 assured the Rockies of a losing season.

The Rockies (67-82) have lost seven straight, and are a combination of four losses and Dodgers wins from being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Saturday night was yet another window into why a team that was so good this time last year is turning in regular ineffectual performances.

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The Rockies also became the fifth NL team to reach the 1,100-strikeout mark this season. To be fair, some contending teams are in that category. But couple the whiffs with a season-long difficulty with hitting with runners in scoring position, and you have a team that is puzzlingly bad offensively after winning much acclaim for its hitting approach last year.

"That's one of the things we've talked about, and it will be an area of major importance over the offseason and the next Spring Training," said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, whose club will attempt to avert a sweep of the three-game series on Sunday afternoon. "Every night, you can't say the other guy pitched well."

However, a huge part of Saturday was the 20-year-old Kershaw, who has a deceptive mid-90s fastball and a curveball that he repeatedly caused the Rockies to take wild swings at as it bounced.

Last time he met the Rockies, Kershaw gave up 10 hits and five runs in three innings. But Rockies first baseman Garrett Atkins said signs of Kershaw's talent were present.

"You see some guys with a mid-90s fastball and you can see it good and it's straight, but his, if it can be sneaky, it definitely is," Atkins said. "And he throws his curveball well off of it."

Clint Barmes' third-inning RBI single, after Willy Taveras walked and posted his 68th steal, was the full extent of the Rockies' offense. The strikeouts continued to pile up after Kershaw departed. Chan Ho Park fanned four and Jonathan Broxton punched out two.

"It seems like if we go up there first pitch thinking we're going to hit, we get out on the first pitch," Atkins said. "Then guys go up there, 'All right, we're going to take a pitch,' all of a sudden it's 0-1."

The Dodgers, who have won 12 of their past 13 games, ran up the pitch count and applied pressure to Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa (8-8), who was on a roll in August and early September but has been less effective in his past two outings -- a no-decision in a loss to the Astros and Saturday's loss.

Casey Blake led off the second with his ninth home run with the Dodgers and 20th overall this season. Angel Berroa's double sparked a three-run fourth for the Dodgers against De La Rosa.

"I put too much attention to the runners on base and went too fast to home plate," said De La Rosa, who gave up seven hits and four runs, but struck out five, in five innings.

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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