LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies arrived at Dodger Stadium on Friday night with renewed vim, thanks to the work of two young starting pitchers the previous two games. But now they have cause to be worried about baseball's oldest pitcher.
Jamie Moyer tied the club's season high with seven strikeouts but gave up five runs over five innings of a 7-3 loss to the Dodgers, the Rockies' sixth in their last seven games, in front of 35,591.
Mark Ellis, who finished last season as the Rockies' second baseman but signed with the Dodgers during the winter, homered off Moyer (1-3) in the first inning. Ellis also doubled in two runs during a three-run fifth -- when Moyer, 49, faltered in his third time through the Dodgers' order.
In his last three starts, Moyer has gone five innings each time but given up 27 hits and 17 runs (16 earned). Friday's was like his last start, when the Braves rallied against him and knocked him out after five innings. His struggles came after recent callups Alex White and Christian Friedrich pitched well in consecutive games at San Diego.
The Rockies (13-18) will need to stabilize their pitching -- and hit on the road, which also has been a problem -- to become relevant in the National League West. The Dodgers (21-11) are six games ahead of the second-place Giants and 7 1/2 ahead of the Rockies.
"It is frustrating, but that's the game of baseball," Moyer said. "It's a pitch here, a pitch there, a hitter here, a hitter there, a base hit. It can change a game. It can allow a mediocre game to be a mediocre game, a decent game to turn into a poor game or a decent game to turn into a really good game."
Ellis entered the game hitting .200 (3-for-15) with a double and a homer against Moyer, with most at-bats coming when Ellis was in the American League with the Athletics and Moyer pitched for the Mariners.
"He doesn't have the velocity, although he was never overpowering," Ellis said. "He doesn't give in and he works the edges. I got a ball over the middle of the plate. He'll make a mistake once in a while."
The Rockies needed a tremendous game just to keep up with the Dodgers' sizzling left-hander Chris Capuano (5-0), who limited the Rockies to one run -- Michael Cuddyer's fourth home run of the season, in the seventh -- on four hits in seven innings. The Cuddyer homer ended Capuano's scoreless streak at 24 2/3 innings, the longest such streak for the Dodgers since Chad Billingsley went 24 2/3 from July 21 to Aug. 5, 2010.
Moyer made the team this spring to operate as a veteran leader of a young staff. But he will have to improve quickly just to hold a spot.
Jeremy Guthrie is coming back on Tuesday from a shoulder injury, while White and Friedrich are possibly emerging. Juan Nicasio, who will start against the Dodgers on Saturday, has been the best of a struggling bunch in the rotation. Drew Pomeranz was sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday, but could be there for just a short time to work on delivery flaws. If Jhoulys Chacin's early-season troubles were more a product of a sore shoulder, he will be back at some point trying to reach his potential.
Twice through the order, Moyer trailed just 2-0 on Ellis' homer and Bobby Abreu's RBI single in the fourth after Andre Ethier's double.
Trouble began when James Loney and Matt Treanor opened the fifth with soft singles. Todd Helton then grabbed Capuano's sacrifice bunt and threw to cut off Loney at third and Moyer fanned Dee Gordon.
However, Moyer fell behind Ellis, 3-1, before giving up a two-run double on which center fielder Dexter Fowler scaled the wall but seemed to misjudge the ball. Moyer walked Matt Kemp intentionally before Ethier added an RBI single two batters later.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said the problem for Moyer wasn't fatigue but good hitting by Ellis, who homered at the end of a nine-pitch at-bat in the first and took advantage of being ahead in the count for the double.
"The whole situation [while facing Ellis] was predicated by the guy who was standing on deck," Tracy said. "You walk the guy, you deal with Kemp with the bases loaded and two outs. He didn't want to do that. You give in to something that you don't want to deal with.
"In relation to tonight's outing, I wouldn't say the third time through was disastrous. I think there might've been a little bit of a letdown after the Ellis double."
Ethier hit his seventh home run of the season in the seventh off Carlos Torres, and Juan Uribe hit his first homer of the year in the eighth against Esmil Rogers.
After knocking 13 hits in Wednesday afternoon's 6-2 victory over the Padres, the Rockies returned to their light-hitting road ways. The Rockies are 3-7 on the road and entered with a .226 road batting average, 13th in the National League.
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.