Rockies outslugged by Rays in finale
Staff allows three home runs, while club hits three dingers
DENVER -- Pitchers never enjoyed the good ol' days at Coors Field, before baseballs were stored in a chamber to protect them from becoming hard and slick in the local atmosphere.
The Rockies' Aaron Cook didn't like the tune of Sunday afternoon's blast from the past, a 7-4 loss to the Devil Rays in front of 31,190. The teams hit three home runs apiece for the highest combined total in a game this season, surpassing Saturday night's five.
Cook (4-4) went six innings and gave up 10 hits. Jonny Gomes hit two-run homers in the second and sixth innings, and Carlos Pena knocked a two-run homer to the third deck in the four-run sixth as the Rockies' win streak ended at four games.
"It's always around this time of year when it starts to warm up, guys hit the ball in the air and it seems like it's flying a little bit more, but I can only imagine what the balls were doing before the humidor," Cook said. "I didn't have the chance to pitch here back then, and I definitely wouldn't want to go back to that."
On a 93-degree day, not even the hot Rockies offense could keep up.
The Rockies produced solo shots from Kazuo Matsui -- the first right-handed long ball from the switch hitter since May 23, 2004 for the Mets off then-Rockies pitcher Shawn Estes -- Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe. The latter two are tied for the club lead with 12 homers.
But Scott Kazmir (5-3), increasing the frequency and velocity of his fastball through his six innings, gave up three runs on six hits and walked four, but struck out five.
The Rockies had two bases-loaded chances, but Garrett Atkins, who had homered in each of the previous three games, grounded into a double play against Kazmir to end the fifth and struck out against Jay Witasick to end the seventh.
"I feel they made some decent pitches -- ones that I could hit, but I wasn't able to get the job done," he said.
The Rockies' last two losses have gone to Cook, the staff's ace. But on Monday, he held the Red Sox to two runs in 7 1/3 innings of a 2-1 loss. Sunday, he lacked a sinker and breaking pitch.
"I think we're going to talk about some things internally, but I think if you're going to put your finger on one thing it's consistent command," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
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Pitching coach Bob Apodaca said the Rays' putting leadoff hitters on base in four innings caused Cook to rush his mechanics and lose downward movement on his pitches.
"You got to give them credit that they put a lot of baserunners on and put pressure on him," Apodaca said. "It got him out of his timing, and he was just never able to recover."
Cook said, "I just had a bad game. I mean, shoot, we won four in a row. We're still above .500. Guys in the clubhouse aren't feeling like we're dead.
"You shake this one off, we get an off day tomorrow. Shake this one off and come back against the Yankees [for three games starting Tuesday night]."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.