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Rockies Lose To Cardinals, 9-3, May Slide Continues With Ubaldo's Slump

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ROCKIES LOSE TO CARDINALS
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DENVER -- A year ago, Ubaldo Jimenez went storming into June with a 10-1 record and a 0.75 ERA.

He'll head into the unofficial start of summer this season still searching for confidence, command and control – along with that elusive first win_ and he'll carry a burdensome 5.86 ERA with him.

"I don't even want to think about it, but it's hard, especially the kind of year that I had last year. But there's nothing I can do," Jimenez said. "The only thing I can do is get ready for my next start. I'm not going to be looking back ... I just want to keep working and hopefully for my next start give my team a chance to win."

Jimenez lost again Friday night, allowing a career-high 12 hits and six earned runs over six innings in Colorado's 9-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

"I was leaving everything high," said Jimenez, last year's NL All-Star starter, who fell to 0-5. "They hit really good tonight."

Especially Colby Rasmus, who went 4 for 5 and drove in three runs with two triples.

Rasmus, mired in an 0-for-20 funk coming in, matched his career high with four hits. He singled his first two times up, then broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth with an RBI triple off Jimenez. He added a two-run triple in the seventh off Matt Daley.

Jake Westbrook (5-3) wasn't particularly sharp but still improved to 3-0 all-time against Colorado, giving up three earned runs on five hits over five innings in his first appearance at Coors Field since 2003.

With their fourth straight loss at home, the Rockies fell two games below .500 for the first time in more than a year. They have lost 18 of 25 games this month.

Rasmus' first triple sailed over the head of center fielder Eric Young Jr., a former second baseman who was called up from the minors before the game to give the Rockies' struggling offense a spark. Young was subbing for Dexter Fowler, who very well might have chased down Rasmus' drive that sparked a three-run rally.

Nobody could have caught up to Rasmus' second triple, though, which went into the right-field corner and scored two more runs. Rasmus tagged up and scored on Yadier Molina's sacrifice fly to make it 9-3.

Jimenez has struggled with his fastball command all season, but the one thing he was doing just like last year was holding hitters in check. Opponents were batting just .212 off him coming in, but he surrendered career-high 12 hits and six earned runs over six up-and-down innings. He only walked two.

Jimenez, who acknowledged recently that it wasn't just the cracked cuticle in his pitching thumb that bothered him this season but also a hip flexor and strained groin in spring training, was coming off his best performance of the year, a two-hitter in a 3-1 loss at Milwaukee.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said, "tonight there just didn't seem to be a lot of finish to the pitches, and there were some elevation to them."

He reiterated his opinion that Jimenez's struggles are mechanical.

"It's not a psychological thing," he said. "It's a matter of getting to the point where his mechanics are completely right, which I think will bring about finish, which will help him to be a pitch-maker like he was last year with the type of stuff that he had and obviously increase the command of his fastball."

After striking out the first hitter he faced, Jimenez gave up a double to Jon Jay and the first of Albert Pujols' two RBI singles.

"I threw a lot of strikes today; it wasn't like I was walking everyone," Jimenez said. "They just came and hit. They did good today."

The Rockies took a 2-1 lead in the second when Ty Wigginton hit a run-scoring single and scored on Chris Iannetta's double, but Jimenez gave up five hits in the third, when Pujols and Allen Craig had RBI singles. Jimenez escaped further trouble by picking off one runner and stranding two more.

The Rockies tied it at 3 in the bottom half when Young sped home from second base on Carlos Gonzalez's rather routine single to left. Colorado loaded the bases, but Wigginton struck out and Ryan Spilborghs hit into a fielder's choice, and the Rockies wouldn't get another hit.

The Cardinals matched a season high with 19 hits.

"The only thing you can do is prepare for your next game. You can't go into your locker and cry," Jimenez said. "You have to keep moving forward. We still have a long season."

After all, the Rockies reached the playoffs in 2007 and '09 after similarly poor starts.

"We're only four games behind the first place and we still have like 100 games left," Jimenez said. "So, we have to keep working hard and hopefully we're going to get out of this."

Notes: Rockies RHP Aaron Cook (broken right pointer finger) is making his final rehab start in Colorado Springs on Saturday and if all goes well will come off the DL next week, and RHP Esmil Rogers (side muscle) will throw 45-50 pitches Monday at extended spring training. ... RHP Bruce Billings made his major league debut for Colorado and allowed a run on five hits over two innings.

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