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News » LATE MONDAY: D-BACKS 6, ROCKIES 3 Rockies' free fall continues in desert Colorado once again struggles at the plate. All that sp


LATE MONDAY: D-BACKS 6, ROCKIES 3 Rockies' free fall continues in desert Colorado once again struggles at the plate. All that sp


LATE MONDAY: D-BACKS 6, ROCKIES 3 Rockies' free fall continues in desert Colorado once again struggles at the plate. All that sp
PHOENIX - That splattering sound you heard Monday night? It was the Rockies' hopes colliding with reality.

Two weeks into a season in which players promised redemption, Colorado's play has been embarrassing. The Rockies took another cactus between the eyes Monday night, plummeting into a last-place tie in the National League West with a 6-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"They are taking it personal," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "They are trying to get better results, and they will."

Forget that it was the Rockies' fourth straight defeat and seventh in eight games, or that this road trip couldn't have gone worse with Clark Griswold navigating the GPS. It's how the Rockies (4-8) have reached this point - doing everything they said they wouldn't in spring training.

Let's start with the offense.

Time in Tucson was devoted to practicing fundamentals, moving runners, making contact. Yet, the Rockies aren't hitting on this trip (.202 average) or with runners in scoring position overall (.229).

The sight of Todd Helton standing lonely on third base in the fourth inning captured the futility. Troy Tulowitzki struck out looking to end the rally on a pitch that appeared outside, then squabbled with plate umpire Ron Kulpa.

Tulowitzki is hardly the lone offender in the sputtering lineup.

Chris Iannetta has three hits this season, Garrett Atkins leads the world in hard outs and only Ian Stewart, who homered Monday, is batting over .300.

"I have talked to just about all of the hitters over the last few days," hitting instructor Don Baylor said. "I told them that we need to relax. Nobody is making excuses. And nobody is panicking."

It doesn't help that the Rockies are constantly playing catch-up. They haven't held a lead in the past 30 innings. That has created self-imposed pressure on hitters to do more, leading to an alarming 102 strikeouts.

"Overswinging has been our biggest nemesis," Hurdle said.

Like a goalie in hockey, a starting pitcher can camouflage other weaknesses. On Monday, Jason Marquis, the team MVP through two weeks, stumbled, gear-grinding through five innings and six runs.

He showed guts, surviving without a good breaking ball or his best sinker. Their absence and a missed defensive opportunity betrayed him in the fifth inning. A potential double play vanished when Tulowitzki threw slightly wild to second baseman Clint Barmes. Barmes barehanded the ball but couldn't get enough on his throw to erase a hustling Chris Young.

Two pitches later, Miguel Montero crushed a belt-high changeup into the right-field pool, turning a two-run lead into a 6-1 advantage.

"That was huge. Things are not going our way right now," Tulowitzki said.

Hurdle spoke calmly before the game about how last year's struggles should leave this club better equipped to handle a slow start.

Although there is pressure on Hurdle in the last year of his contract, players say he hasn't changed his demeanor. He said it was time to hit the "refresh" button on the Internet toolbar. With the way the season is going, Ctrl-Alt-Delete might be more appropriate.

Troy E. Renck: 303-954-1301 or trenck@denverpost.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 23, 2009

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