PITTSBURGH -- The Colorado Rockies dropped to a season-worst 18 games under .500 after getting swept in a series they led in each game. But the bullpen allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to take the lead late in each game.
Matt Belisle was at the heart of the bullpen's struggles, working a total of one inning in two appearance and allowing four runs. His struggles are emblematic of the entire team's lately.
"Matty's in there struggling right now," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's ready to go and his mentality is strong. He's struggling right now, like a lot of us."
Belisle entered in a 3-3 tie but couldn't finish the seventh after he was charged with two runs on four hits and walk. Belisle walked Pirates outfielder Josh Harrison with one out then allowed the go-ahead run to score on a base hit by center fielder Andrew McCutchen after Harrison stole second.
Two batters later, second baseman Neil Walker hit his 14th home run of the season. Belisle gave up a pair of hits after to shortstop Jordy Mercer and third baseman Pedro Alvarez before he was pulled in favor of Brooks Brown.
"Today was amateur," Belisle said. "As far as what not to do."
Tyler Matzek, who worked a quality start before Belisle entered, believes that one of Colorado's veteran leaders will be able to run things around.
"I'm not worried about it," Matzek said. "It's baseball, it happens. He's going to save us 10 times over if anything bad happens. I think he's fine and I'm not worried about our bullpen at all."
Belisle has allowed at least a run in each of his last four appearances, ballooning his ERA from 4.38 to 5.63.
"I have to control what I can but this business is about results and I'm the first to abide by that," Belisle said. "You can't get away from the preparation or the type of teammate or leader that you have to be."
STREAK: Lost five
NEXT: Nationals (RHP Doug Fister, 8-2, 2.90 ERA) at Rockies (LHP Franklin Morales, 5-4, 5.26 ERA)
--LHP Tyler Matzek worked through six innings Sunday and has pitched at least six innings in each of his last five starts. His outing was also his fourth quality start of his last five. Matzek struck out a career-high eight batters.
--C Michael McKenry, a former Pirate, homered as he played in his first game at PNC Park as a member of another team. His home run came against former teammate Jeff Locke, who McKenry had caught before. "He's going to swing hard and if he gets his pitch, he's going to hit," Locke said. McKenry also threw out Andrew McCutchen on the basepaths, the first time the center fielder was caught stealing this season.
--2B DJ LeMahieu went 0-for-3 after his season-high 10-game hitting streak came to an end July 19 with his 0-for-3 performance. LeMahieu is batting .277 on the season, but .326 in the month of July.
--RHP Matt Belisle has given up at least one run in each of his last four relief appearances, raising his ERA from 4.38 to 5.63. Belisle allowed four runs in one total inning of work between two appearances during the Rockies' series in Pittsburgh.
--RHP Nick Masset threw a scoreless inning Sunday in his first rehab appearance for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He landed on the disabled list July 6 due to a left patellar tendon strain.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Today was amateur. As far as what not to do." -- Rockies RHP Matt Belisle after a loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday.
--1B Justin Morneau (stiff neck) did not play July 18-20. It is uncertain when he will be ready to return.
--SS Troy Tulowitzki (left thigh cramp) left the July 19 game, and he didn't play July 20. He is day-to-day.
--OF Charlie Blackmon (sore left ankle) did not play July 20. X-rays on the ankle were negative, and he is day-to-day.
--RHP Jordan Lyles (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list June 5, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 13. He threw 30 pitches in live batting practice July 11. He also fielded grounders hit right at him for the first time. The Rockies scheduled Lyles for three rehab starts. He was due to begin his rehab assignment July 18 at Double-A Tulsa but was scratched because he felt pain in his hand. He also was involved in a traffic accident July 18 and suffered cuts on his face.
--RHP Tyler Chatwood (right elbow flexor strain) went on the 15-day disabled list April 30, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 5. He underwent an MRI exam that ruled out a tear in the elbow. He began throwing program from 50 feet May 23. He threw at 75 feet May 27. He threw from 105 feet June 3. He threw a bullpen session in mid-June. He experienced two setbacks, and he will have a second Tommy John surgery at a date to be determined, ending his season.
--RF Michael Cuddyer (non-displaced fracture of left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 6, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 21. He is scheduled to receive a follow-up MRI exam July 21.
--RHP Nick Masset (left patellar tendon strain) went on the 15-day disabled list July 6. He was expected to throw from the slope of the mound on July 12 and, barring a setback, throw a bullpen session July 13. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Colorado Springs on July 20.
--RHP Jhoulys Chacin (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list June 30, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 4. He does not need surgery but is facing a lengthy rehabilitation. He will get a platelet-rich plasma injection July 8. There is a chance he won't return to action this season.
--RHP Christian Bergman (broken bone in left hand) went on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to June 21. He will be in a soft cast until early August, and he won't be ready to return before mid-August.
LHP Jorge De La Rosa
LHP Tyler Matzek
LHP Franklin Morales
LHP Brett Anderson
RHP LaTroy Hawkins (closer)
LHP Rex Brothers
RHP Adam Ottavino
RHP Matt Belisle
RHP Tommy Kahnle
RHP Chad Bettis
RHP Brooks Brown
LHP Boone Logan
1B Justin Morneau
2B DJ LeMahieu
SS Troy Tulowitzki
3B Nolan Arenado
INF Josh Rutledge
INF Charlie Culberson
LF Corey Dickerson
CF Charlie Blackmon
RF Carlos Gonzalez
OF Drew Stubbs
OF Brandon Barnes
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