DENVER — Jim Tracy has tried team meetings and tinkering with his lineup to wake up a slumbering offense.
Nothing's worked for the Colorado Rockies manager.
And now there are ramifications.
Moments after the Colorado Rockies dropped a 6-3 decision to the surging Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night, infielder Jose Lopez said he had been designated for assignment.
He wished his teammates well on his way out, shaking hands and doling out hugs.
"Part of this game," said Lopez, who was hitting .208 with two homers. "Hopefully another team will pick me up."
The Rockies may have suffered another setback as well with outfielder Seth Smith leaving the game in the seventh with a cramp in his groin. Smith is one of the team's top hitters.
"We'll check and see how he's doing tomorrow," Tracy said. "But he did not pull it."
Try as he might, Tracy simply can't explain the team's offensive woes. They're hitting .241 and can't seem to come up with the clutch hit.
He's tried heart-to-heart chats, he's rested players and even adjusted his lineup, moving speedy Dexter Fowler from leadoff to the eighth spot on Thursday.
But the tactics haven't translated on the field.
"The thing that I have to do is be very patient of the fact of knowing there's some very capable offensive players that need to find their way," Tracy said. "I personally feel it takes courage to have patience. They know the program. They have seen it. They've got a taste of it."
The Rockies have now lost seven of nine to drop below .500 for the first time since opening day.
Meanwhile, surprising Arizona has suddenly figured it all out.
And just like that, the Diamondbacks are closing in on the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
Micah Owings pitched five effective innings for his first win in more than a year and Miguel Montero hit a three-run homer as the Diamondbacks have won nine of their last 10 to creep to within 1 1/2 games of the Giants.
Last season, Arizona finished a distant 27 games behind the world champion Giants. But under manager Kirk Gibson, the team is putting all the pieces together – finally.
"Early in the year we were hitting, but we weren't pitching. Then we were pitching, but we weren't hitting and we were fumbling around and making mistakes on the bases," Gibson said. "We are putting things together."
Owings (1-0) bottled up the Rockies' struggling offense, allowing just four hits and striking out three. The only run he surrendered was an RBI single by Troy Tulowitzki in the fourth.
The right-hander earned his first win since last May, when he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
Montero staked Owings to an early lead, lining a belt-high pitch over the right-field fence in the fourth after Clayton Mortensen (1-2) walked the first two batters of the inning.
Colorado rallied for two runs against Arizona reliever Esmerling Vasquez in the seventh as pinch hitter Jason Giambi had an RBI sacrifice fly and Ryan Spilborghs followed with a run-scoring single. But with two on, Jonathan Herrera grounded out to end the threat.
That's simply been the way it's been for the Rockies this month, who fall to 7-17 in May.
"When your offense doesn't have the traction that we know it's capable of having, little mistakes magnify themselves," Tracy said.
With Jorge De La Rosa sidelined after suffering a season-ending elbow injury Tuesday, Mortensen has suddenly gone from a fill-in starter to all but sewing up a spot in the rotation, especially given his recent string of solid outings.
After being so effective in his opening three starts, though, Mortensen hit a bump against Arizona, giving up four runs and five hits in six innings.
The right-handed rookie hardly has overpowering stuff with his fastball hovering around 87 mph, but possesses pinpoint control – at least typically.
Mortensen wiggled out of an early jam, but couldn't get out of the mess he created for himself in the fourth by walking Stephen Drew and Chris Young to start the inning, then falling behind on Montero, who promptly hit his fifth homer of the year.
"The walks are what killed me tonight," Mortensen said. "You can't lead off an inning with two walks. There were 10 consecutive balls. It doesn't work."
Notes: The Rockies traded RHP Felipe Paulino to Kansas City on Thursday night for cash considerations. Paulino was designated for assignment by the Rockies last Saturday. ... Rockies RHP Esmil Rogers (strained back muscle) threw 60 pitches in a bullpen session Wednesday and will head to Arizona for extended work next week. Rogers has been eligible to come off the DL since May 16.