DENVER (AP) - Despite getting mostly solid pitching recently, a sputtering offense has stalled the Colorado Rockies' hopes for a second-half push into playoff contention.
This time, rookie Jose Fernandez quieted the Rockies' bats, tossing seven strong innings in the Miami Marlins' 4-2 victory Tuesday night. He got plenty of support from a fellow rookie, Christian Yelich, who went 3 for 4 with two RBIs in his major league debut.
Making his first start since appearing in the All-Star game, Fernandez (6-5) baffled the Rockies all evening, as he pitched out of several jams and limited one of the league's top-hitting teams to five hits and two runs. He also struck out eight.
The Rockies are down 2-0 to the Marlins with two games remaining in the series. They are averaging only one run in their last six losses over an 11-game span.
``In a little bit of a funk right now,' Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. ``It's a talented offensive club and I feel like we'll get rolling, but we've got to go out there and do it.'
Todd Helton hit a solo homer to give the Rockies an early lead and Carlos Gonzalez brought in another run on a groundout. That was all the offense the Rockies could manage against Fernandez.
``We were not able to score runs, again,' Gonzalez said. ``I think Fernandez pitched really well, too. But it's not acceptable. We should be better than that. We should score more runs. I don't think our focus was the same tonight, and the game got away.'
Jhoulys Chacin (9-5) did his best to give the Rockies a chance despite being hit in the upper leg by a line drive early on. He stayed in the game and pitched seven solid innings, allowing three runs and eight hits.
``He'll have a nice bruise there but Jhoulys really battled and gave us a chance. He did a real nice job,' Weiss said.
Fernandez was a little bit better, though. In the fifth, he escaped danger by getting the speedy Dexter Fowler to hit into an inning-ending double play.
An inning earlier, he wiggled out of a two-on, one-out jam by striking out Michael Cuddyer and Helton, both on hard-breaking curves.
Fernandez's only mistake was leaving a 94-mph fastball up to Helton, who lined it over the wall in right.
``I think everybody here understands the situation and how important these games are,' Gonzalez said. ``I don't think it's the pressure. I think it's more about concentrating more and trying to do the little things, because you can't expect to hit a home run every night. If we take more professional at_bats and try to make something happen, we're going to be able to score more runs.'
Giancarlo Stanton had a solo homer in the eighth and Adeiny Hechavarria had an RBI double for the Marlins.
Fernandez started out of the dugout to begin the eighth, only to be called back when the Rockies sent up a pinch hitter. The Marlins countered with reliever Mike Dunn, who tossed a perfect inning. Steve Cishek closed out the ninth for his 19th save in 21 chances, getting Helton to pop out to end the game.
The Rockies received quite a scare in the third when Hechavarria's two-out liner appeared to catch Chacin in the upper left thigh, sending the right-hander tumbling to the dirt. Chacin got back up, paced around the mound for a moment, threw a few warm-up tosses and then motioned he was all right.
Despite a 48-53 record, the Rockies remain in the thick of the NL West and the success of this 10-game homestand - they're 2-3 so far - may very well determine whether the organization makes any bold moves at the trade deadline later this month. Colorado needs another starter in the rotation, especially with Drew Pomeranz struggling, along with another bat.
Vice president Bill Geivett wouldn't give away his intentions in a conversation before the game.
``We are right in the mix with other clubs in our division, so we will see how it goes,' Geivett said.
NOTES: Rockies reliever Rafael Betancourt (appendicitis) may start light activity such as walking on a treadmill as early as Thursday. ``His side feels good, so that's a good thing,' trainer Keith Dugger said. ... Helton hit his 361st career homer, tying him with Joe DiMaggio for 76th on the career list. ... D.J. LeMahieu had his second consecutive multihit game for the Rockies.
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