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CIN@COL: Rutledge ropes two-run shot to right-center

DENVER -- This was not the home debut Jonathan Sanchez was hoping for, a short-lived start in which he was shelled for six runs before the fifth inning had concluded.

The 7-2 loss to the Reds on a cloudy Sunday afternoon, the sixth time the Rockies have been swept this season, was not the way the club wanted to begin its nine-game homestand, either. The loss in front of 29,430 at Coors Field pushed Colorado to a 20-32 record at home (.384 winning percentage), a franchise low.

With Sanchez's line of work in 4 1/3 innings, the ERA of the Rockies starting rotation swelled to 6.34, which would be tied for the second-worst in Major League history (1939 St. Louis Browns). The starting staff of the 1999 Detroit Tigers combined for a 6.64 ERA.

"Yes, the pitching is [the biggest struggle of my career]," manager Jim Tracy said. "But it's not an excuse."

In his second game with the Rockies since being acquired from Kansas City in a July 20 trade for Jeremy Guthrie, Sanchez (0-2) was nicked for runs in each of the first three innings, including leadoff triples in the second and third. He entered the day with a career 4-3 record at Coors Field -- having made eight starts here with the San Francisco Giants.

"I got hit around," Sanchez said. "I was throwing strikes, and they were swinging the bat. Right now, it's not working, but I have to go out there and keep fighting. I've got to be more aggressive."

Sanchez was 1-6 with the Royals, but Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd thought a change of scenery would do the lefty well.

But, after two looks, he's been no better than Guthrie, who won three of his 15 starts.

In Sanchez's first start with the club, July 23 against Arizona, he gave up five earned runs in four innings.

"We have to keep moving forward [with Sanchez]," Tracy said. "He's struggling with his command, so he's placing the ball. And his velocity has backed up a few miles per hour since I last saw him with San Francisco. We have to be mindful of those things."

Josh Rutledge gave Sanchez a lead in the bottom of the first inning, shooting the first pitch he saw from Reds starter Mat Latos into the Rockies bullpen for his second career home run.

Rutledge, hitting in the No. 2 hole for the second day in a row, added a single in the third inning to increase his batting average to .379 since his July 13 callup.

"I'm doing all right, I wish we could have put some more runs on the board, put together a win," Rutledge said. "But I'm feeling decent, seeing some pitches well."

Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce each crushed fifth-inning homers off Sanchez. Bruce's second-decker to right chased Sanchez from the game, the second day in a row Tracy has had to relieve the starting pitcher before 15 outs.

"Again, it's just very difficult when our starting pitching can't get 15 outs for you," Tracy said. "We have not been able to effectively do that."

From the second inning on, Latos was dominant in his second start of the year against the Rockies, a far cry from the five homers he gave up in a May 27 start in Cincinnati. Latos (9-3) gave up four hits in his eight innings of work, striking out eight.

"His slider was virtually unhittable," Tracy said. "That quite possibly could have been as good a game as I've seen him pitch. He was terrific,"

Said Rutledge, "After the first, [Latos] was throwing everything for a strike."

With his offense backing him up in a big way, Latos was able to relax after the two-run first inning.

"I can give up two runs and still know I'm in the ballgame, as opposed to before when two runs could cost you a game," he said. "I'm not so tense just giving up two runs."

Carlos Torres struck out five Reds in 2 2/3 innings of relief for the Rockies, who have lost five straight games and are 18 games back in the National League West.

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