. Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa made his long-awaited return to the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, pitched better than his line would indicate and, being a proven winner, offers more tangible hope for 2013 than any rookie.
De La Rosa took the mound for the first time since May 24, 2011, when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. He underwent Tommy John surgery June 3, 2011. De La Rosa missed 264 games.
He gave up seven hits and six runs, five earned, in 3 2/3 innings with one walk and one strikeout and threw 70 pitches, 44 strikes. De La Rosa gave up a solo homer to Pablo Sandoval with two out in the first. He gave up an unearned run in the third when catcher Wilin Rosario, playing his first career game at first base, missed a popup. And when the Giants broke the game open with six runs in the fourth, De La Rosa allowed run to score on a wild pitch but could have escaped with just that one run had Rosario been able to pick up third baseman Chris Nelson's low throw.
De La Rosa, instead, left trailing 4-2. Back-to-back homers off Edgmer Escalona by Sandoval, a three-run shot (two of the runs were charged to De La Rosa) and Buster Posey blew the game open.
"After 16 months, I've very pleased with what I saw from our starting pitcher," manager Jim Tracy said. "We did a poor job of taking care of the baseball. Two miscues led to seven runs. But the bright spot was the left-handed pitcher who showed he's getting himself back to the guy he can be, and then some."
The Rockies have lost six straight games, their longest losing streak since their season-high eight-game skid June 5-14. They have lost eight of their last nine games and 13 of their last 15.
The Rockies open their final homestand Friday, four games with the Diamondbacks and three with the Cubs. With a record of 58-91, the Rockies have to win nine of their final 13 games to avoid a franchise-record 96 losses -- they lost 95 games in their expansion 1993 season and again in 2005 -- and have to win five of their final 13 games in order not to lose 100 games.
De La Rosa singled home a run in the fourth to tie the game at 2. It was his 17th career RBI and a nice moment for the 31-year-old left-hander, but satisfaction for De La Rosa is going to come on the mound, not at the plate, and he got a measure of it after his long layoff.
"It feels good to get back out there and pitch," De La Rosa said. "At the same time, I didn't get the results I wanted. Everything felt good, though, and I can work a lot more. It's all the same thing; you want to make your pitches, and if you don't they will hurt you. But things felt normal."
De La Rosa twice had rehab assignments halted this season, first by forearm tightness and later by swelling on his elbow. He began a third rehab assignment Sept. 5 and made three starts without any setbacks before finally taking the mound against the Giants.
"The bright spot is that, obviously, a very important left-handed starting pitcher for us was coming out there and showing signs that he is going to get himself back to be being the guy that we know he is capable of being, and hopefully then some," Tracy said. "I thought his fastball command, for the most part, was good, and he threw some terrific changeups. He threw a couple of real good curveballs."