DETROIT -- Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie rushed toward the first-base line and confidently yelled to catcher Wil Nieves that he would handle a popped bunt by the Tigers' Quintin Berry in foul ground. Nieves jumped back. It turned out Guthrie couldn't even reach it.The odd play, on which Guthrie was curiously charged with an error -- even though the ball was beyond his reach -- led to a three-run third inning. The Tigers didn't need much more. Rockies hitters struck out 13 times in a 5-0 loss at Comerica Park on Sunday in front of 40,619. The Rockies (25-40), who lost for the 10th time in 11 games, dropped 2-of-3 at Comerica to begin a nine-game, 10-day road trip that resumes Tuesday in Philadelphia. Colorado fell to 1-11 in Interleague Play, after going 56-47 against the American League from 2006-11.
Guthrie (3-6) had struggled mightily in losing his previous two outings -- to the tune of a 15.91 ERA. Although he was having problems putting hitters away when ahead in counts on Sunday, he entered the third inning down just 1-0. But starting with the error, five of the next six hitters reached. Guthrie extracted the desired ground ball from the last of those hitters, Ramon Santiago, but it rolled just beyond the glove of diving second baseman Chris Nelson for a two-run single and a 4-0 Tigers lead."There's frustration," Guthrie said. "You want to go out there and give your team a chance to win. I was unable to do that today." Guthrie sat through a 53-minute rain delay that began during the top of the fourth, and he didn't return when play resumed, giving way to Guillermo Moscoso. However, Tigers starter Max Scherzer (6-4) stayed on the mound and simply dominated, holding the Rockies to seven scattered hits while striking out 12 in eight innings. Marco Scutaro and Tyler Colvin each had two hits for Colorado, but Scherzer was able to work against a lineup that was without main hitter Carlos Gonzalez, scratched just before the game with a right knee strain. "It just seemed like after we came back out, everything got better," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "His fastball got livelier. His slider and changeup were definitely a lot crisper. "You've got to give him a lot of credit. To come back out there and finish eight innings and throw 122 pitches, I think that would connotate a warrior, a stud." Speaking of studs, the Rockies' lineup didn't have one. Gonzalez, hitting .335 with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs, is listed as day to day going into Philadelphia. The Rockies are 5-11 without regular shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who will have his troublesome upper left leg muscle checked out by a sports hernia specialist in Philadelphia on Monday, and it isn't clear when he'll return. Scutaro, who moved from second base to short in Tulowitzki's absence, improved his batting average this month to .350 with Sunday's performance, but said it wasn't easy against Scherzer. "That guy's got great stuff," Scutaro said. "He had good command of his fastball, was running his fastball to the corners and mixed in the slider and changeup." The odd and messy outing didn't offer closure to Guthrie's future in the rotation. The right-hander was obtained in a trade with the Orioles -- one that saw Jason Hammel go to Baltimore and shine, including a near no-hitter Saturday -- to eat innings. Yet his ERA rose to 7.02, and after going at least seven frames in three of his first four starts, he has managed that threshold just once in his last seven outings. Tracy said in the days leading to Sunday that Guthrie's leash had been shortened, but it wasn't clear that Guthrie had pitched himself into more chances, or out of the rotation. Guthrie finished with strikes on 50 of his 78 pitches while striking out two and walking two, one intentionally. "The pitch volume for three innings, that's a ton of pitches," Tracy said. Guthrie generally pitched ahead in the count, but Gerald Laird's RBI double in the second came on an 0-2 count, Prince Fielder's RBI double in the third came after he reached 0-2 then saw Fielder foul off four pitches, and Santiago's single was on yet another 0-2 count. "I just need to make better pitches," Guthrie said. "That's what it came down to." Guthrie is part of a rotation that isn't holding up its end of the bargain. This month, Rockies starters have thrown 65 2/3 innings and are 2-10 with an 8.09 ERA. Relievers have thrown more innings, 66 1/3, with a 3.80 ERA. Dexter Fowler, who had a scheduled day off canceled by Gonzalez's injury, struck out three times -- he has fanned 18 times this month -- and Jason Giambi and Nelson struck out twice against Scherzer. "He really kind of overmatched them, to be honest with you," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. Berry singled off Guthrie the pitch after the miscommunication on the bunt, on an 0-2 count. Guthrie balked Berry to second, and Guthrie spun for a pickoff throw to second and luckily adjusted, because shortstop Scutaro wasn't even covering the bag. > Guthrie said he was fine after the error, and Berry, who finished with a career-high five hits, simply reached 7-8 inches off the plate and lifted a pitch just over Scutaro's head. But Tracy wondered if Guthrie had lost focus. "There were a lot of things going on, and he got caught up in the action," Tracy said.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.