08/06/09 5:20 PM ET
After loss, Rockies relieved to head home
Cook injures right big toe, but expects to make next start
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
But they were really happy that the trip was done.
"It seems like we've had quite a few long road trips this year," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "This last series, we were like, 'When are we going home? It seems like it's never going to end.'"
Phillies standout left-hander Cliff Lee, 2-0 since his Trade Deadline arrival from the Indians and 9-9 overall, finished off the Rockies by striking out nine in seven innings.
Lee outlasted Aaron Cook (10-4), who paid for two bad pitches in the fifth -- Paul Bako's first home run of the season and Jimmy Rollins' triple, which led to a run. Cook had to leave after five with a hyperextension of the right big toe.
The Rockies, who trail the Giants in the National League Wild Card race, return home to begin a four-game series with another NL contender, the Cubs.
Despite the positive record, the trip produced some scary signs.
The Rockies lost the first three games of a four-game set against the Mets, two of them via shutout. In the 7-0 loss to the Phils and starter J.A. Happ on Wednesday and Thursday's loss, Colorado fanned a combined 22 times. Slumping second baseman Clint Barmes and two others who didn't start Thursday -- third baseman Ian Stewart and right fielder Brad Hawpe -- hit below .200 for the trip.
But the Rockies' starters pitched well in all but two of the games, and facing three left-handed Phillies starters forced them into alternate lineups. And they can look forward to finally being at home.
Colorado leads the Majors with 60 road games (32-28), but plays 24 of its next 33 at Coors.
"I really believe that getting back to our own ballpark and our fans back there, that reinvigorates you," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "In the process of leaving and getting back, has there been any damage that occurred?"
It's been minimal. The Rockies had a two-game lead on the Giants in the Wild Card when the road trip started. There was a lot of baseball left then, and one-third of the season left now.
For the remainder of the season to turn out positively, the Rockies will have to at least put the ball in play, even when facing one of the game's top starters. That didn't happen Thursday.
Dexter Fowler doubled off Lee and scored on a Todd Helton sacrifice fly in the first inning, and Ryan Spilborghs led off the second and Fowler opened the third with singles. But the first-inning run was all the Rockies could accomplish.
"You always want to get on base and capitalize on the opportunity," Fowler said. "We did it in the first, but couldn't do it again. He mixed up his pitches and hit his spots."
Cook was matching Lee until the fifth. Rollins extended his hit streak to 12 games with a first-inning double and scored on Chase Utley's sacrifice fly. But in the fifth, Bako left a sinker too high in the middle of the plate, and two batters later, Rollins clubbed a pitch to center field.
"Other than that, I felt fine," Cook said. "But after my toe started hurting real bad, it was a matter of getting out of there."
Cook said he has been pitching through the toe issue for a while. The toe was taped before the game, but when backing up third on Rollins' triple "it felt like somebody jammed something up through my foot." But Cook said he should be fine for his next start.
"After that inning, I didn't think it was worth going back out there with the chance of possibly hurting my arm because I was changing my delivery," Cook said.
Hawpe, pinch-hitting, singled off Brad Lidge (21 saves) with two out in the ninth, but Lidge fanned pinch-hitter Stewart.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.