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COL@PIT: Liriano dominates Rockies for seven frames

Returning to the Mile High City will be a welcome uptick for a down Rockies club. Colorado limps home to host Pittsburgh after enduring a 1-9 road trip.

Injuries to Carlos Gonzalez and Tyler Chatwood have not helped the Rockies, who are now tasked with breaking out of slump against one of the best teams in the Majors.

"We've been getting beat up a little bit here on this trip in particular," Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. "Guys are grinding, and we need to go home and play well. I want guys strong when we show up in Denver."

In an effort to let his club regroup, Weiss initially gave veterans Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton and Dexter Fowler the day off in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Mets. The trio is hitting a combined .151 (13-for-86) with one home run and six RBIs since the road trip began on July 29.

Making pinch-hit appearances Thursday, Fowler flied out, Tulowitzki walked and Helton grounded out.

"We're going out there with some young, fresh legs," Weiss said before Thursday's matinee. "... This being such an early game, I felt it would be helpful to have some guys with some fresh legs run out there today."

Colorado will attempt to turn its fortunes around against Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano, who continues to enjoy a bounce-back season in 2013. Liriano sports a 12-4 record, with a 2.02 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 102 2/3 innings.

Perhaps the lowest point for the Rockies' lineup during the team's current skid came against Liriano. The southpaw gave up only two hits during seven scoreless innings in the Pirates' 5-2 victory on Saturday.

Liriano, who is making his first career start at hitter-friendly Coors Field, has surrendered only one run in his past three starts, a stretch of 21 2/3 innings.

"The humidor has made it more of a level playing field," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Coors Field. "But ground balls don't go out of Coors Field. If you got some swing-and-miss stuff, that will always play.

"More often than not, there will be certain guys who will feel trepidation, others who really look forward to meeting the challenge, and I think [Liriano] falls in the latter category."

Despite a trip that dropped the Rockies to 12 games under .500 and 12 1/2 games behind in the National League West, Weiss has been happy to see his team keep pressing.

"I think these guys have competed very well," Weiss said. "I haven't sensed they're letting their guard down or they're taking their foot off the gas or any of that stuff. I feel like they're grinding through some tough stuff right now."

Pirates: No plans of fading
Pittsburgh ended Aug. 8, 2012, with a 63-47 record and a 3 1/2-game lead over St. Louis for the National League's second Wild Card spot. But a 16-36 finish resulted in the club's 20th straight season with a losing record.

Entering Aug. 9, 2013, with the best winning percentage in the NL, the Pirates are once again on track to earn their first postseason berth since 1992. Hurdle said the heartbreak of 2012 made the Pirates of 2013 stronger.

"I believe you're prepared for the future if you paid attention to your past," Hurdle said. "We've learned some very valuable lessons, the players have made some adjustments -- we remind ourselves that feelings aren't facts.

"What and why did not go well, and what can we do to make it better? We're better at controlling the grind and eliminating distractions, so we finish the season stronger. And the players have grown another layer of mental toughness."

Rockies: De La Rosa takes the hill
Jorge De La Rosa will aim to be the stopper for a Rockies club that has lost a season-worst five straight games. De La Rosa is going for his team-best 11th victory.

Like Colorado, De La Rosa has struggled in his past two starts, surrendering eight earned runs on 16 hits with four walks and six strikeouts in nine innings.

Worth noting
• Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, who was scratched from Thursday's starting lineup with discomfort in his right shoulder, ended up playing after all, singling in a pinch-hit appearance in the seventh.

• Colorado's Corey Dickerson is batting .379 (11-for-29) with two home runs, three RBIs and four runs scored in 12 games since he was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on July 26.

• Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario sat out Thursday's day game. Yorvit Torrealba went 1-for-4 in place of Rosario, who leads all catchers with a .318 (43-for-135) clip since June 15.

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