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Ortega a lone bright spot in Colorado's 97th loss

The SportsXchange

Center fielder Rafael Ortega did more than join the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, vaulting from the instructional league to the majors because injuries had thinned the Rockies' bench. Ortega started and batted second against the Dodgers and reached base four times.

He had an infield hit in his first at-bat and stole second base. Ortega then walked, bunted for a hit, took a third strike and was hit by a pitch in the left shin.

He had two of the Rockies' nine hits in their 7-1 loss and was their only player with more than one hit. The loss extended the franchise record to 97 losses and meant they must win one of the three games remaining at Arizona in order to avoid 100 losses.

The Rockies have lost nine straight road games and, with a 27-50 record, have their most road losses since they lost 54 in 2005.

The Rockies were outscored 18-1 by the Dodgers in the series and hit .194 (19-for-98) overall and 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-11 on Sunday.

Ortega, 21, spent the season at high Class A Modesto. In 114 games at Modesto, Ortega hit .283 with eight homers, 60 RBI, 81 runs scored and 36 stolen bases in 54 attempts.

The Rockies purchased his contract because center fielder Dexter Fowler (left wrist tendinitis), left fielder Carlos Gonzalez (left hamstring strain) and first baseman Jason Giambi (hernia) are sidelined and utility player Tyler Colvin was scratched Saturday due to sudden swelling in his left elbow. Colvin was better Sunday and entered the game in the sixth inning but at first base, where there would be less strain throwing.

Colorado made room on the 40-man roster by moving left-hander Jonathan Sanchez (left biceps tendinitis) from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list.

With the rosters expanded in September and the small visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium, players are sharing space with the visiting clubhouse attendants.

When manager Jim Tracy first saw the youthful-looking Ortega on Sunday morning, he made eye contact with him and courteously said hello. Then Tracy realized that might be his new center fielder and that he better properly introduce himself.

"I felt really bad," Tracy said, "so I went right back to him and gave him one of those Tracy hugs, after I said to myself, 'You know what? That was Ortega.' I think he knew who I was.

"The good Lord was looking out for me. Could you imagine if he had on a powder blue shirt and I'd gone by and said, 'Hey, kid, get me a coffee.' Then I'd have had to go back on my hands and knees and said, 'Please, please play center field. I'm sorry.'"
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