LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies' Groundhog May took a unique twist Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
The Rockies had 14 hits, at least one in each inning. The leadoff hitter reached each inning from the second to the eighth. Yet they managed to lose, 7-1, to the Dodgers in front of 36,962 -- about 4,200 of whom purchased day-of-game tickets and witnessed the Rockies' monthlong misery, only turned up a notch.
It was not the type of rare feat the Rockies had in mind when they harped on situational hitting from the first day hitters showed up in Spring Training. Beyond the fact they were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, with the only run coming when Ty Wigginton homered in the fourth right after Seth Smith hit into a double play to empty the bases, the performance was difficult to explain.
"To get 14 hits is obviously a good start, but we need to do it with runners in scoring position," said shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who grounded into a double play -- one of the Rockies' three such rally-killers -- to end the seventh. "We didn't do a good job."
Then again, a Rockies team that legitimately sees itself as championship material began the year at 11-2 and finished April with the Majors' third-best record at 17-8 is 8-20 in May and has clinched the Majors' worst record for the month with a day to go. The Twins are 8-18 this month.
Try explaining that.
The best Rockies manager Jim Tracy could come up with was his team's struggles are unique.
"I don't know how many games I've managed where you got 14 hits and scored one run, but I've seen some different things already through the course of 53 games [this season]," Tracy said. "It's unfortunate.
"That big hit just continually seems to elude us right now. We just have to keep fighting our way through it. It's painful, and it gets more painful by the day. I won't shy away from it."
Rockies pitcher Jason Hammel (3-5), who has put up decent numbers despite poor fortune all season, had his numbers and his luck come together Monday. It was not pretty. Hammel lasted just 4 2/3 innings and gave up seven runs on 10 hits, although about two -- James Loney's two-run homer in the fifth was one -- were solidly hit.
But Hammel accepted culpability.
"I'm going to forget about this one," Hammel said. "Not good ... a lot of strikes but a lot of bad strikes. I dealt with some long innings [102 pitches] because I wasn't making my put-away pitches."
Especially maddening for Hammel was a four-run, five-hit Dodgers third inning.
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley led off with a looping single to right that was the hardest-hit ball of the frame. Jamey Carroll loaded the bases with a slow roller to third -- after he was unable to put two bunts in play. Andre Ethier's two-run single bounced off the glove of Hammel, who could have started a double play, and just beyond second baseman Eric Young Jr.
"That was a dagger right there," Hammel said. "I should've had that. I don't know if you could see my [angry] reaction, but I pride myself on my fielding. I should've had that."
Even Matt Kemp's third-inning sacrifice fly was odd. Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler and left fielder Carlos Gonzalez collided trying to field it and the ball dropped. Fowler salvaged the play by throwing to second for a forceout.
Carroll tripled into the right-field corner to open the fifth. The Rockies might have had a shot at him at third, but Young, who committed a first-inning error, spiked the relay throw. Ethier's single scored Carroll, and two outs later, Loney homered to right.
But as has often been the case as the Rockies have proved to be allergic to May flowers, only perfection from the pitcher would have sufficed.
Gonzalez singled and stole second with two down in the first, but Dodgers center fielder Kemp threw him out trying to score on Tulowitzki's single. The Rockies had two baserunners in the second, fourth and fifth innings, but the only run came on Wigginton's fourth homer of the year. Smith's double-play grounder, however, stole some of the thunder.
The bemusement continued in the seventh, when the Rockies loaded the bases with one out only for Tulowitzki to ground into a double play against Billingsley (4-4), who yielded 11 hits but struck out eight in seven innings.
"Bills made good pitches when he had to," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He didn't seem to keep that leadoff guy off the bases, but when he needed to make pitches, he did."
The Rockies weren't celebrating their traffic against Bilingsley.
"It sounds good," Tulowitzki said. "But I guess it wasn't."
Since the Rockies began sinking, usually with good starting pitching but less-than-consistent offensive play, in about the middle of April, it would seem the answer would take more than changing the calendar after Tuesday.
Whatever needs to be done, the Rockies have to hope it happens soon. Monday began a nine-game National League West road trip.
"We've got to keep it as positive as we possibly can and keep on believing that we're a good team," Tulowitzki said. "It's tough. This is the first game on the road trip, but we still have an opportunity. We'll see if we can make the most of it."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.