Nine-run fourth inning does in Rockies

Nine-run fourth inning does in Rockies

ATLANTA -- Jorge De La Rosa angrily leaped from the dugout bench and pounded a water cooler twice. Then he kicked it.

De La Rosa's reaction to his long and forgettable fourth inning Wednesday night illustrated that the Rockies are a ways away from the assignment manager Clint Hurdle has given them -- execute better and have some fun. Instead, the Rockies suffered through a nine-run fourth en route to a 12-4 loss to the Braves at Turner Field.

They're a season-worst nine games below .500 and 2-4 on their current 10-game road trip. In this four-game series with the Braves, the Rockies won the opener and dropped the next two, but really have had just two good innings in the three games.

Hurdle hoped to change the mood, but he also decided to bench one of his key players, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, because of a first-pitch swing that led to a double play in Tuesday night's 8-1 loss. Like many moves in a season that looks like it's getting away early -- the way last season did on the heels of a 2007 World Series appearance -- it didn't exactly provide a spark.

Now the Rockies hope that Thursday night, Aaron Cook, their No. 1 pitcher, changes an increasingly sour mood.

"We've done it before," Hurdle said. "When you win, you have fun. But to win, there are a lot of components that have got to come into place. That's where we are. We've got to get the execution right."

De La Rosa (0-4) struck out 22 in his previous two starts and had pitched as well as anyone on the staff despite a lack of fortune -- until Wednesday.

With the game tied at 1, De La Rosa walked three of the first four batters, and hit the other one, to open the fourth inning. All would score. Braves leadoff man Omar Infante hit an infield bouncer and beat the throw of Omar Quintanilla, who replaced Tulowitzki, to drive in a run and leave two runners on base.

Then Yunel Escobar launched his fourth homer of the year for three runs and a 7-1 lead.

De La Rosa left the game and pounded the cooler the way he didn't pound the strike zone. Matt Belisle gave up RBI singles to Jeff Francoeur and David Ross.

"I was wild," De La Rosa said. "That was my problem. I didn't throw strikes."

The nine-run inning came three days after a pitching and fielding meltdown led to a 10-run seventh inning for the Pirates in the Rockies' 11-4 loss. The Rockies have scored 21 runs through six games of this road trip -- just two more than the combined total they yielded Sunday to the Pirates and Wednesday to the Braves.

"It doesn't feel like a baseball game when you're out there and the game is 10 runs [difference in the score] -- either way, if you're winning or losing," said third baseman Garrett Atkins, who went 1-for-4 to lift his batting average two points to .194. "It's more fun when you're winning."

The Rockies would have to improve dramatically to have a big lead like that. Had De La Rosa been accurate, Wednesday might have been like many of his starts this season.

The Rockies did little offensively against starter Javier Vazquez (4-3), who held them to one unearned run and three hits in five innings.

"We threw 190 pitches tonight," Hurdle said. "We scratched out six hits. We've got nine hits in two ballgames. So knowing that going in, you don't expect to win games.

"We've got to turn the game around and create some momentum."

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