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Rockies' pitching erratic in Helton's spring debut

Rockies' pitching erratic in Helton's spring debut

PHOENIX -- Two cogs the Rockies hoped would be keys to a rejuvenated pitching staff in 2013 blew gaskets on the hill Sunday as Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood combined to force three runs home on hit batsmen and another one on a walk in a 7-2 loss to Oakland.

De La Rosa is penciled in for one of the rotation's top three spots, but has had a pair of rough outings to open the Cactus League, with his spring ERA at 7.36. He has allowed three runs on four hits, four walks and a hit batsman in 3 2/3 innings, with the two-out HBP forcing in a run in the first frame after he gave up a pair of leadoff singles then walked the bases full with one out.

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Adam Rosales reached base three times in three innings for the A's, singling to center and later scoring when Michael Choice was hit by De La Rosa, then walking in the scoreless second and walking to plate Choice in the third. Scott Sizemore equaled the on-base antics in the first three frames, with a single to left in the first and an infield single to third in the second before being hit by Chatwood to cap a three-run A's rally in the third.

Todd Helton's 2013 Cactus League debut marked a key milestone, and the veteran Rockies first baseman went 0-for-2, popping out to third in the first inning and grounding to second in the third. He had just one play at first, anchoring a 4-3 double play with one on and nobody out in the second.

"It felt good," Helton said of his first game action since right hip surgery seven months ago. "Obviously I wish I felt better at the plate. My timing wasn't there, but physically I felt good, and mentally I felt good. Now it's just getting out there and getting reps."

The Rockies got an early run when designated hitter Nolan Arenado drilled his third homer of the spring for a solo shot halfway up the left-field berm. The Rockies starters scattered a few more hits, with Eric Young Jr. lacing a leadoff single to left in the first frame and Dexter Fowler legging out a double to right in the third.

A.J. Griffin gave the A's a solid start, scattering three hits over three innings and striking out one, with Arenado's dinger the only damage. It was a nice follow-up to his scoreless first outing when he pitched two innings of one-hit ball and struck out three of the six D-backs he faced.

Chatwood gave up three runs in the third, sandwiching singles from Choice and Hiroyuki Nakajima between two walks and two hit batters, pushing three runs across. He struck out the side, nonetheless, and settled down in the fourth and fifth, retiring the A's in order in each frame.

"I think I just relaxed a little more than I was in my first inning and tried to make pitches," Chatwood said of his adjustments. "Obviously I walked some guys, but all the guys I hit I had 1-2 and 0-1. I think pitches got away from me. I just need to control that more."

The A's added a run in the sixth when Grant Green singled to center, advanced on a wild pitch and came home on Chris Young's RBI single up the middle.

Rockies Up Next: The Rockies head to Peoria for a 1:05 p.m. MT game against the Mariners. Juan Nicasio will make his third Cactus League appearance for the Rockies as he works to build momentum and secure his spot in the rotation following two perfect innings at home against the Reds on Thursday. He will be followed by Miguel Batista, Chad Bettis, Logan Kensing, and Will Harris. The game will be broadcast on ROOT SPORTS in their Cactus League Rockies broadcast debut.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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