There are bad losses, and there are REALLY bad losses. Tonight's 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Dodgers is definitely of the latter variety.
The Rockies came out swinging in the first. Ryan Spilborghs, who had walked, scored on a Garrett Atkins double.
Brad Hawpe followed with his first home run of the season off Dodgers starter Randy Wolf. Troy Tulowitzki followed with a sharp single but was stranded.
Jorge De la Rosa was in trouble frequently, starting in the first inning when he gave up singles to Rafael Furcal and Manny Ramirez, but he managed to get out of every jam he got into and lasted 5.1 innings on 104 pitches, leaving after one out and two walks in the bottom of the sixth inning without surrendering a run.
Glendon Rusch relieved him and got James Loney to hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, sending the game into the seventh with the Rockies still up 3-0.
After a flyout by Chris Iannetta leading off the top of the seventh, Clint Barmes doubled off Guillermo Mota, who had replaced Wolf prior to the start of the frame. Barmes advanced to third on pinch-hitter Seth Smith's grounder to first, but was stranded there when Dexter Fowler flied out to left.
Matt Belisle started the bottom of the seventh on the mound for the Rockies, and the wheels came off almost immediately. Belisle walked Orlando Hudson following a seeing-eye single up the middle by Furcal. That brought Ramirez to the plate as the potential tying run.
Ramirez singled to right-center, scoring Furcal with Hudson advancing to third. Clint Hurdle went to the bullpen again, bringing in lefty Alan Embree to face Matt Kemp. Kemp hit into a fielder's choice, with Ramirez out at second and Hudson scoring the second run for the Dodgers.
Hurdle stayed with Embree against the left-handed hitting Andre Ethier, who promptly doubled to deep center-field, driving in Kemp from first.
Another Rockies' pitching change saw Jason Grilli enter the game to face Dodger catcher Russell Martin, whom Grilli retired on strikes. However, the next batter, Mark Loretta, singled to left, and Ethier crossed home for the go-ahead run.
The Dodgers turned a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead on five hits and a walk in their half of the seventh inning.
Hong-Chih Kuo relieved for the Dodgers to begin the eighth, and Spilborghs greeted him with a ringing double. Todd Helton couldn't advance Spilborghs as he bounced out to the pitcher. Atkins and Hawpe followed Helton's grounder with back-to-back walks, and the Rockies were threatening with the bases loaded and one out.
Troy Tulowitzki was next up for the Rockies, and Dodger manager Joe Torre, with the game hanging in the balance, summoned hard-throwing closer Jonathan Broxton from his bullpen.
Broxton came in and was all business, mowing down both Tulowitzki and Iannetta on swinging strikeouts to wipe out the threat.
Huston Street, pitching the eighth inning due to Hurdle removing him from the closer's role, gave up a hit and stolen base to Hudson but retired the Dodgers in the home half by striking out Ramirez and getting Kemp on a routine ground-ball.
Broxton returned to the mound for the top of the ninth and was overpowering, getting Barmes on a grounder to Furcal at shortstop and then striking out pinch-hitter Ian Stewart on a called third stike.
Dexter Fowler swung and missed at the last pitch of the game, capping an 0-for-5 night for the young center fielder.
As typically is the case with most wins, this loss was also a total team effort by the Rockies.
The offense went cold after the first inning, with Wolf racking up nine strikeouts on the evening.
After throwing 36 pitches to get through the first inning, he only needed 67 to finish off the next five. Broxton fanned four in getting five outs, giving the Rockies 13 for the game.
That makes three straight games that Rockies' hitters have given up double-digit strikeout totals to opposing pitching staffs, and they are 1-2 in that stretch.
The Rockies came into this game batting .295 with runners in scoring position through the first eight games of 2009 but were 0-5 with two walks in those situations against the Dodgers tonight, all of those opportunities coming in either the 7th or 8th inning with the game in the balance.
De la Rosa and Rusch combined for six shutout innings, but the relievers who followed fumbled it away. Belisle, Embree, and Grilli each had opportunities to stop the bleeding, and none of them executed when it was most needed.
The Rockies have little time to lick their wounds, though, as tomorrow's game has been moved up to the early afternoon slot for an airing on national television by Fox.
Aaron Cook looks to continue his bounce-back from his Opening Day struggles, and he will be opposed by rising star Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers.
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