Rox can't capitalize on pinch homer

Rox can't capitalize on pinch homer

DENVER -- Another time, Clint Barmes' eighth-inning, two-run homer would have helped make Friday night a happy homecoming from the Rockies.

But it was just a footnote on a night that featured much of the same dicey pitching and poor clutch hitting that has led to a slow start in 2009.

Barmes' pinch-hit shot tied the game, but the Dodgers' Brad Ausmus delivered a ninth-inning RBI single that sent the Rockies to their ninth loss in 11 games, 6-5, at Coors Field in front of 36,151 in the opener of a six-game homestand.

"It would have been a big win for us," Barmes said.

When a team struggles early as the Rockies have, it's almost as if each result is accompanied by one of those fast-talking dudes at the end of radio commercials, offering some disclaimer: "It's only April." That might even be true.

But the Rockies need to win. Yes, they've played 11 games from Coors Field, but they've won just one of the four at Coors. And Friday night featured some of the issues that dogged the team on the road.

"We've got to find a way to get that one more hit or that one more out," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

The Rockies went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 12 on base. They had three hits and a walk against Dodgers starter Eric Stults in the first inning but managed just one run, and three runs total against Stults, despite seven hits and five walks in five innings.

Barmes' homer off winning pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo (1-0) provided hope. The Rockies had two on and one out in the ninth, but Jonathan Broxton (sixth save) struck out pinch-hitter Seth Smith and Chris Iannetta to end the game.

It was a cruel twist for Iannetta, who entered in a 2-for-17 slump but had two hits, scored twice and seemed primed to win one for his club. Iannetta extended the final at-bat to eight pitches, including five straight foul balls before he whiffed on a bouncing slider.

The relief pitching also has become problematic, although it can be argued that one of the three relievers who couldn't hold the Dodgers at bay didn't pitch badly.

Huston Street threw a perfect seventh on nine pitches. Hurdle had said he didn't want to use Street in multiple innings, but he looked so good and was so efficient that he sent him back out for the eighth. Street retired the first two hitters, but Brad Ausmus doubled on the only pitch that Street felt was bad. Mark Loretta gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead with a soft single.

"I was furious when Loretta's ball fell in, because as a team we really needed that game tonight," Street said.

Jason Grilli faced three batters and gave up a hit and two walks (one intentional). Grilli also tossed a wild pitch with the bases loaded, scoring Loretta. In his past three games, Grilli, the primary setup man, has walked five and given up one hit while retiring one batter.

"For whatever reason, his command has become his enemy," Grilli said.

After Barmes tied it, closer Manuel Corpas (0-1) gave up a leadoff double to James Loney, retired two, then yielded Ausmus' go-ahead single.

The offense showed signs of emerging from its funk. Troy Tulowitzki, who went 4-for-27 on the club's eight-game road trip, walked four times. All of the starting position players except for Ian Stewart reached at least twice.

Also, starter Aaron Cook, who had not gone more than four innings in two of his first three starts, overcame a slow start in the first inning (two runs on three hits and two walks before the first out) and held the Dodgers to three runs and seven hits in six innings. He walked six but struck out four -- including Matt Kemp and Casey Blake with runners at second and third in the fifth.

"It's not the outcome I wanted -- we definitely wanted a win -- but I feel like I got over a little bit of a hump today," said Cook, who detected a flaw in his stride toward the plate and worked on it between starts.

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