09/29/10 6:38 PM ET
Home finale gets away from Rockies, Chacin
Colorado swept at Coors Field for first time this season
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
Less than a week ago, Colorado returned to Denver looking to gain ground in the standings and stay afloat in the playoff race. Now, the Rockies embark on the road for their final series of the season after suffering their first sweep at Coors Field in what has been a volatile campaign.
With Wednesday's 7-6 win, the Dodgers -- an arch nemesis of the Rockies the last two seasons -- put an exclamation point on the Rockies' ugliest stretch of the season. Colorado has lost nine of 10 and seven of nine at Coors Field.
"That's not really the way you want things to go on the last day," said Colorado manager Jim Tracy, who suffered his first losing homestand since he took over in May of last year.
The ball literally bounced the wrong way for the Rockies, who saw a costly third-inning error lead to five unearned runs for starter Jhoulys Chacin.
The rookie right-hander took a 1-0 lead into the top of the third before Ian Stewart booted a grounder at third base, loading the bases with two outs. After a run-scoring walk, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp made the Rockies pay with a grand slam to give Los Angeles a 5-1 lead.
"Errors happen all the time," Chacin said. "You can't control that. I couldn't make a pitch after that, and I paid for it."
Colorado tacked on runs in the third and the fourth with a solo homer from Miguel Olivo and a Stewart RBI grounder. Ryan Spilborghs narrowed the Dodgers' lead with a two-run single before Chacin exited with a 7-5 deficit.
Of course, it would not be a Coors Field contest without some late-inning flair. The Rockies had three men reach base in the bottom of the ninth, scoring one, before Olivo lined out to short to end the game.
"We've had some success here, but it's never comfortable playing here," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, whose club is the only one in the National League West with a plus-.500 record against the Rockies. "They had the air taken out of their sails against the Giants. By the time we came in, they were fighting an uphill battle."
Tracy concurred. Just 10 days ago, the Rockies were poised to move within at least a half-game of first place in the division in Los Angeles. What followed was the team's worst tumble of the season.
"Something I know has been happening a heck of a lot over the last 10 days is we've been playing an awful lot of catch-up baseball," Tracy said. "And that's not a very good formula for success, as our record would indicate over the last 10 days."
Chacin, who struck out seven to set a franchise rookie record with 138 strikeouts this season, has gone from an anonymous rookie callup to a possible front-end starter for a team that will likely be a top choice to win the division next season.
"I've been working hard this year," the youngster said. "I didn't get the result I wanted and I'm disappointed I didn't win 10 games, but I did the best I could for the team. I'm going to work hard this offseason and be ready."
With an attendance of 33,296 for Wednesday's home finale, the club's total attendance in 80 home dates this season, which included one doubleheader, reached 2,875,245 -- the largest total since 2001.
And when the game ended, the Rockies picked their heads up and glad-handed those remaining in a lap around Coors Field to say goodbye -- for now.
"I can't say enough about the people in Denver and the fan support and the way they have rallied around this baseball team," Tracy said.
"I want to promise them that when we come back here next April, we will be coming back with the intent of playing meaningful September games and hopefully knocking on that same door of opportunity we've been knocking on the last two years. Hopefully, we'll knock it down in 2011."
Joey Nowak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.