WASHINGTON -- The lesson in the Rockies' 7-3 loss to the Nationals on Monday night is when a team is going bad, even the logical choice can have a negative outcome.
That's what happened as the Rockies suffered their 12th loss in 14 games at Nationals Park in front of 33,660.
Rockies lefty Yohan Flande, in his second Major League start, battled his way to a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning with two on and one out -- a strikeout of Adam LaRoche after the count was 3-0. It was then that Rockies manager Walt Weiss replaced him with righty Rob Scahill.
Flande (0-1) had pitched well and had just 87 pitches. But the batter, Ryan Zimmerman, had singled and doubled off Flande. In Scahill's two appearances since being called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs, he had thrown two scoreless outings covering 3 2/3 innings, and just one of the five runners he had inherited had scored.
"Flande was throwing the ball really well, and the first two guys got on in the inning," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "A guy making his second Major League start, you want to be out in front of stuff before it happens to a kid like that."
Then it all went sideways. Zimmerman delivered an RBI double into the left-field corner on 2-1 fastball right into Zimmerman's hot zone, down and in.
Scahill issued a shaky intentional walk to Bryce Harper -- he bounced the first pitch painfully into catcher Wilin Rosario's midsection. Then Scahill left a curveball up, and Ian Desmond laced a three-run double.
"I try to do the same thing I try to do every other time," Desmond said. "It's a good situation to hit in. Bases loaded with two outs. That's what you are looking for."
Wilson Ramos drove in the inning's fifth run on a fielder's choice.
"We took a 2-1 lead and I had a job to do -- try to get out with limited damage," Scahill said. "I wasn't able to limit the damage."
LaRoche delivered his 12th home run of the season, a solo shot in the seventh.
Flande was charged with three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out three, walked one and induced eight ground-ball outs. In the fourth, Zimmerman doubled and scored on a single from Harper, back after missing 57 games because of left thumb surgery. But Flande pitched out of a two-on, no-out pickle in the third, and generally accounted for himself decently in his second Major League start -- 10 years into his pro career.
"I felt good today on the mound, and I threw the ball pretty well," Flande said, with Rosario interpreting. "I didn't feel panic or anything. I needed to strike out [LaRoche] to make sure the runners who were on base at that time stayed on first and second. If I stayed in the game, I'd have had to make a couple of pitches to get a shot to get a double play."
Weiss has been happy with Flande, who is the 12th starter the Rockies have used in this injury-filled season.
"He did his job, threw the ball well," Weiss said. "He's been very competitive both times out."
The night fell apart after the Rockies' offense pushed across two runs in the sixth off Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann (6-4), who pitched around seven hits in six innings.
Drew Stubbs and Troy Tulowitzki opened the sixth with doubles to push one run across, and Tulowitzki later scored on Ryan Wheeler's short sacrifice fly to center. Denard Span's throw to the plate beat Tulowitzki, but the ball bounced off Ramos' equipment and the catcher couldn't make the tag. Tulowitzki tallied again in the eighth, when he walked and later crossed home on a wild pitch.
After the Nats' big inning, Corey Dickerson was at first with one out in the seventh against Drew Storen. But Zimmerman, at third base, dove to snatch Charlie Blackmon's hard liner, then doubled Dickerson off first.
The loss completed the Rockies' June at 8-20. Yet, the Rockies will finished the month 11 games off the pace of the National League West. They began the month 7 1/2 back.
As June becomes July, the Rockies have 10 players on the disabled list, including six starting pitchers -- with Jhoulys Chacin (right shoulder issues) having joined that group on Monday. With third baseman Nolan Arenado (fractured left middle finger) close to a return and two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (left index finger surgery) not far behind, the Rockies hold out hope.
"If we can get healthy, this team's talented," Tulowitzki said. "But you don't want to fall too far behind. Those teams ahead of us are really good."