Notes: Iannetta using what he's learned
Rockies part of bizarre circumstances; Helton struggles at plate
HOUSTON -- Even when he wasn't getting to play consistently, Rockies rookie catcher Chris Iannetta was learning.
Now, Iannetta is putting the lessons to good use. On Thursday night, Iannetta hit his second home run of the season and went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two walks in an 8-5 loss to the Astros. Iannetta was back in the lineup on Friday night.
The Rockies lost the first seven games of their current road trip, but Iannetta was on a hot streak -- 5-for-14 (.357) with a home run and three RBIs. He has hit safely in six of his last eight games.
All the hitting lately has brought his average to just .216. But the rough start to the season might be behind him.
"It's been difficult at times, but I'm trying to make the best of every opportunity that I get to play," Iannetta said. "I've just got to find a way to help the team, even if I take an 0-fer like I did a couple of times. I try to do something defensively, then try to put it together and do both."
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said Iannetta has progressed offensively by not letting his strength through his Minor League years -- his keen eye for the strike zone -- become a weakness in the Majors.
"He's gotten more aggressive," Hurdle said. "We had a player here four years ago, I used to ask him if he got four strikes when he went to the plate. That was Todd Zeile. There was a period this year when Chris thought he had five.
"He's always had great discipline, and we talked about that through Spring Training and last year when he was here. But there comes a point in time when discipline is good, but we need to be aggressive in the zone.
Iannetta also helped the Rockies with a strikeout-caught stealing double play Thursday night. Whether that was his best game, however, is a question he wasn't interested in answering.
"Personally, it doesn't matter," he said. "What matters is whether we win. Situations when I do well don't matter to me. I just want to win and I want us to get back on track."
Making history: If you think the Rockies' bizarre pattern of getting leads in innings in which the game could be decided only to lose in the bottom of the inning is rare, if not unique, you're right.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team to suffer three losses in the same road trip after taking a lead into the bottom of the final half-inning was the 1978 Indians.
"It's bizarre," Hurdle said. "But if you keep hanging around, you'll see things you've never seen before. I've seen things this past week I've never seen before. That being said, that's just raised the bar a little bit."
Hard-luck Helton: Rockies first baseman Todd Helton entered Friday 4-for-26 during the road trip and hitless in 11 at-bats. It's an issue when the cleanup hitter is struggling.
"We're getting to the point in time now when Todd and I have even talked about some things," Hurdle said. "It's all hands-on, and we're going to try to nail this thing down tonight, light a spark and see where we go from there.
"I'm being proactive."
Hurdle said there is an issue with Helton's swing.
"Whether it starts with a mental thought or if it's become mechanical, we're just trying to get him through it," Hurdle said. "He hasn't had a lot of success the last couple of weeks. Sometimes it's best to back away. We're right at those crossroads now."
Up next: Saturday night's third game of the series pits a pair of former Rockies No. 1 Draft picks. The Rockies will send their 2002 top pick, left-hander Jeff Francis (7-5, 3.80 ERA), against their 1999 first pick, Astros righty Jason Jennings (1-2, 3.66).
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.