Rockies drop finale to Dodgers

Rockies drop finale to Dodgers

DENVER -- The finish the Rockies wanted ended when Brad Hawpe limped down the first-base line in vain after grounding into the final out of an 8-6 loss to the Dodgers at Coors Field in front of 22,271.

So there was no comeback to gloss over the team's shortcomings -- weak offense, especially early in games, and poor relief pitching when it counts. The Rockies fell to a season-low 10 games below .500 and 14 games behind the National League West-leading Dodgers, who have beaten Colorado in eight of nine meetings this season.

"It's going to be real hard to come back -- we can do it, but its pretty hard," said Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez (3-6), who nearly pitched well enough to win but was done in by a Dodgers club that is winning with stunning regularity.

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Seth Smith's RBI triple, Paul Phillips' RBI double and Todd Helton's bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning made for the only close game of the Dodgers' three-game sweep, which saw them outscore the Rockies, 31-13. Still, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, who faces increasing speculation about his job status with each new bitter loss, saw familiar problems.

Hurdle saw the Rockies have too many weak at-bats against Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw (3-3), who held them to three runs -- two on Ryan Spilborghs' fourth-inning homer -- and four hits in six innings.

Hurdle also witnessed a five-run seventh in which Jimenez faltered before Manuel Corpas replaced him and gave up two runs. Alan Embree coughed up a run in the eighth.

By day's end, Hurdle had seen enough and was ready for a day off on Thursday before the Padres come to Coors on Friday.

"I think it's not going to hurt to maybe step back, breathe some fresh air, have some fun and come out ready to play against the Padres," Hurdle said. "That's what I'm going to do."

Taking time to escape the speculation is fine. Reversing the performances that fuel it is the real issue.

"We think about things like that; we know what's at stake," Helton said. "I think it affects the team, but you go out and play the game for the game. When you're out there playing, you don't think about that stuff."

Jimenez gave up a run in each of the first two innings, one on his fielding error in the second inning, but was strong and efficient through six innings. Jimenez fanned Casey Blake for his fifth strikeout and the second out of the seventh. But Juan Pierre, who went 8-for-16 in the series, lashed his single past a diving Helton, and the game unraveled.

"He [Pierre] was really battling out there," said Jimenez, who was charged with five runs, four earned, and nine hits. "The last pitch was a really good pitch."

Mark Loretta's RBI single in the seventh came off Corpas, who followed by walking Orlando Hudson to load the bases. James Loney's bases-clearing double made it 7-3.

Embree gave up a run on a walk and Pierre's RBI single in the eighth.

"Those are two guys that have been doing a very good job bridging us to [closer Huston] Street," Hurdle said. "They did nice work in Detroit but weren't very efficient today."

Smith's run-scoring triple was off Will Ohman, who came in after Spilborghs' single off Ronald Belasario. Jonathan Broxton, who entered with a 1.17 ERA, struck out Clint Barmes but gave up Phillips' double and walked Ian Stewart and Dexter Fowler.

Troy Tulowitzki had his best at-bat of a bad day, but on the eighth pitch, he swung at a sinking slider for the second out and his third strikeout in an 0-for-5 game. Helton didn't take advantage of the one pitch Broxton gave him to hit and walked.

Hawpe -- batting for the first time since suffering a strained right groin on Monday -- had no chance on his grounder to short.

"It feels like our head is under water, but we're still trying to push up," Spilborghs said.

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