"It was like a playoff atmosphere the entire homestand," manager Jim Tracy said. "We won the homestand against two very, very good teams. We didn't win this series, but we won this homestand. We're still in a very good position. We're not beating ourselves. We're giving ourselves every chance to win."
Unfortunately, those chances seem to decrease dramatically when the team in the opposing dugout has "Dodgers" stitched across its jerseys. The Rockies may not be beating themselves, but the Dodgers are beating them.
"We got them early when they weren't playing well," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "This is the second series between them since they've straightened themselves out. They come at you in a lot of different ways. They are tough, hard-nosed."
For the fourth straight game, the Rockies let the visitors on the scoreboard in the first inning, and for the second consecutive game, the Dodgers got a pair of first-frame runs courtesy of a walk and a homer. Rafael Furcal earned the leadoff walk after starting out 0-2 in the count, and Matt Kemp booked the roundtripper over the 390-foot mark in left field.
The Rockies staged a two-out rally in the third inning, with Carlos Gonzalez singling to left and Seth Smith following with a triple into the right-field corner. After Todd Helton walked, Troy Tulowitzki dropped a bloop single into left to tie the score with his second of three hits.
Los Angeles reclaimed the lead in the sixth, after Orlando Hudson hit a leadoff single and Brad Ausmus sacrificed him to second. Pinch-hitter Mark Loretta flied to center, but Furcal delivered a two-out hit up the middle to plate Hudson.
"I was still making good pitches," Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa said. "I thought I threw pretty good. Just two mistakes in the game. With Furcal, I was throwing fastballs all day. And then I gave him a changeup."
De La Rosa took the loss -- just his second in his past 12 decisions -- despite a quality effort, lasting seven innings and yielding all three runs on eight hits and four walks.
The Rockies had ample opportunity to get another run across and tie the score but were only 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They had the tying run on second in three of the last four innings, all with one or none out but couldn't find the timely hit to change the game.
"They've got some pretty good pitching," second baseman Clint Barmes said. "You can't take too much away from their hitters either. We couldn't come up with a clutch hit in this series. We were able to come up with some clutch hits in the San Francisco series. For whatever reason, this one didn't work out for us. You got to give their pitchers some credit. They made some good pitches and got us out."
Fortunately for the Rockies, their path to the playoffs need not necessarily go through L.A. They have played increasingly competitive games against the Dodgers this season, but of their remaining 34 games, only the final three of the season are against the division-leading Dodgers. Having shown they are capable of almost everything else they're asked to do on the field, it would have been nice to show they were capable of taking a series against the team they're chasing, but Tracy remains happy with the effort.
"The past six games that we've played them, going back to July when we were in their place and this series here, you can't play them any tougher than we played them," Tracy said. "The fact that you are going to play them the last three days of the season could really be interesting, couldn't it? Depending upon what takes place from game one through the 31st game of the final 34. So [forget] what happened in April and May.
"We had the opportunity against two teams that are fighting against the same thing we are to stub our toes badly and put ourselves in a bad position, and we didn't. There isn't anything standing in front of us that's any stronger a challenge than we just faced in the course of this homestand."