PITTSBURGH -- As the sun reached its golden glory over PNC Park late Wednesday afternoon, all Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez could do was duck.Gonzalez lost fifth-inning fly balls from two straight batters, allowing RBI doubles by Nate McLouth and Andrew McCutchen. Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin compounded that by giving up consecutive home runs to Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez as the Rockies fell to the Pirates, 5-1, in the second game of a doubleheader in front of 15,218 fans. "You can't catch something you can't see," Gonzalez said. "I didn't see the ball at all. The sun was right in my face. "It seemed like every time we were going to hit, the clouds covered the sun for the other team. Bad luck." The Rockies won the first game of the doubleheader, 2-1. The Rockies had won the previous three series. But a team that tends to struggle on the road finished a trip to Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, places where the Rockies struggled in the past, 3-3. Next is a nine-game homestand that starts Friday night against the Mets. "We need to play good baseball, and the first game back we need to set the tone, so I'm looking forward to that first game," first baseman Todd Helton said. The Pirates' Alex Presley doubled with one out in the fifth. McLouth's fly ball was almost right at Gonzalez, but he didn't see it and gave a futile reach. McCutchen hit a fly to left-center, but all Gonzalez could do was shield his eyes with his glove and peer for the ball in vain. "We'd have something a lot different to talk about if there were no sunglasses involved," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "You could tell that ball got right directly ... He did everything he could beyond being so far in front of it, it hits him in the forehead or hits him in the face. He had a pair on." Presley, who deals with the sun while playing left field for the Pirates, understood the issue. "It's just always in your face there," Presley said. "You gotta try to do something different, play it to the side or something. You can't play it the traditional way." After the two incidents, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki relayed a different pair of sunglasses to Gonzalez. It was a case of the blinded trying to lead the blinded. "It was real bad. I remember having my glasses on, and I was checking it to see if my flips were working," Tulowitzki said. "As soon as I looked into it the first time, I couldn't see the next two pitches." Chacin struggled with high pitch counts in the early innings, but he appeared to be on his way to settling down before the two fly balls. Then Jones hit his third homer of the season, and Alvarez knocked his fourth of the season and second of the series. Natural conditions have hurt Chacin twice this season. He was throwing well against the D-backs at home on April 14 but a rain delay forced him from the game after four innings. "There are things you can't control," Chacin said. "One day in Denver it was the rain. Here, it was the sun." Chacin said he needs to control his pitch count. "I didn't do my job," Chacin said. "I had 80-some pitches when I got to the fifth inning. I need to keep my pitch count down so I can throw more innings." Pirates starter Charlie Morton held the Rockies scoreless until Ramon Hernandez homered to center with two out in the seventh. Morton allowed one run on six hits in seven innings. His performance came after James McDonald held the Rockies hitless until the seventh in the first game. "Morton is good -- he sinks it, cuts it, has a good slider," Tulowtzki said. "McDonald has a great put-away pitch on that curveball, and when he was getting ahead and dropping that curveball he was making it tough on hitters. They've got a good staff." The home run was Hernandez's third of the season and 164th of his career, which leads active catchers.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.