DENVER (AP) - Lucas Harrell couldn't believe how slight the difference was between a loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night and his previous outing, when the Houston Astros starter outdueled Clayton Kershaw.
``I thought I threw the ball as well tonight as I did in my last start,' Harrell said. ``The main difference was just the balls finding holes.'
Against Kershaw and the Dodgers, he allowed five hits and a run in a career-best 7 1-3 innings in a 3-1 victory. This time out, Harrell (4-4) gave up a career-worst nine runs on 10 hits in five innings of a 13-5 loss.
``When I needed a ground ball I got it a few times,' said Harrell, who struck out four and walked three. ``The rest of the time when I needed a ground ball and you got one, it didn't really find anybody.'
``I thought his stuff was real good though and he had real good sink on his fastball,' Houston manager Brad Mills said. ``It was just trying to command it and he wasn't getting some of those balls down and when he got behind to a couple of guys, they were able to get on him.'
And then there was the inability of Harrell and three other pitchers being able to keep the ball in the ballpark.
Carlos Gonzalez hit three home runs in his last three at_bats, Michael Cuddyer belted a grand slam and Dexter Fowler also homered for the Rockies.
``We battled back and had a lot of hits,' said Mills, referring to Houston's 15 hits, two short of a season high. ``But they won it. They got the five homers.'
The game was not without some concern for the Rockies, however. Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki left the game in the top of the seventh with what the team said was a strained left groin. Tulowitzki appeared a little gimpy as he returned to the dugout after running out an infield groundout in the bottom of the sixth.
Gonzalez broke a 5-5 tie with a solo shot leading off the fifth off Harrell. He added a two-run drive off reliever Xavier Cedeno as part of a six-run sixth and then had another solo shot, driving the first offering from David Carpenter into the right field seats in the bottom of the eighth inning.
It was Gonzalez's first career three-homer game. He has had four multihomer games this season and eight in his career.
Cuddyer connected in the first inning on the first pitch he saw from Harrell for his seventh career slam and second this season, but it had to survive a replay review by the umpires after a fan reached over the right field railing to catch the ball. The replay showed the ball had cleared the yellow boundary marker atop the right field scoreboard before being caught.
Fowler, who had a game-ending RBI triple among his team record-tying seven hits in Monday's doubleheader sweep of Houston, doubled and scored in the second inning and had a three-run homer off reliever Rhiner Cruz in the sixth for his career-high eighth home run of the season.
``Something woke (Fowler) up,' Mills said. ``He had a good double header on Monday and came back today and swung the bat well.'
Christian Friedrich (3-1) allowed five runs on 11 hits in six innings, shaking off a rough third inning in which the Astros scored four runs.
Chris Snyder had a two-run double, Chris Johnson had a sacrifice fly and Justin Maxwell added an RBI single as the Astros pulled into a 5-5 tie. But Houston couldn't sustain the momentum, losing its fifth in a row and its sixth straight to the Rockies at Coors Field.
The Rockies' run total was the highest allowed by the Astros this season, surpassing the previous high of nine, which the Astros had done twice this season, most recently in a 9-7 loss to Colorado in the opener of Monday's doubleheader.
NOTES: The Astros have lost six straight to Colorado at Coors Field. ... Both benches received a warning from home plate umpire Marty Foster when Houston reliever David Carpenter sailed a 1-1 fastball over the head of Fowler in the seventh inning. ... Outfielder J.D. Martinez snapped an 0-for-11 slide with a second inning single and finished with a 3-for-5 night.
The Associated Press News Service
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