PITTSBURGH -- Rockies owner Dick Monfort said he was as surprised as anyone that the Rockies dropped four straight in Atlanta to fall to 8 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the National League West. Monfort expected to win at least twice, based on the Rockies' starting pitching trend, but Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio and Tyler Chatwood -- all of whom had pitched well of late -- were pounded.
The series was a low point, but Monfort said a turnaround is still possible. It surprises him that the Rockies have not won more than six straight at a time this year.
"You get [veteran pitcher Roy] Oswalt back, and [rookie Chad] Bettis wasn't awful [in his Major League debut Thursday]," Monfort said. "You've got four guys four games in a row [De La Rosa, Nicasio, Chatwood and Jhoulys Chacin]. I still think they can do it.
"You look around, what would you change? You'd get some more help in the bullpen, but everybody else is in the same place."
The Rockies have seen righty relievers Edgmer Escalona and Wilton Lopez pitch poorly for an extended period. A couple of right-handed in-house options at Triple-A Colorado Springs are Rob Scahill, who has shown flashes in the Majors this season, but missed much of July because of a family situation; and former Cardinals reliever Mitchell Boggs, who was caught up in the Rockies' numbers game and was sent down a week ago. Boggs, however, gave up four runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings Thursday night against New Orleans.
Dickerson takes advantage of everyday at-bats
PITTSBURGH -- Rockies left-handed-hitting outfielder Corey Dickerson appears to be finding his footing in the Majors.
The 24-year-old hit .386 with nine home runs and 41 extra-base hits at Triple-A Colorado Springs before a June 21 promotion to the bigs. But after 15 games with the Rockies, many as a reserve for the first time in his career, he had a .202 average and wound up back in Colorado Springs.
The Rockies recalled him on July 27, and in his first six games, he went 5-for-12 (.417) with a home run and two RBIs. Dickerson, who is ranked by MLB.com as the club's No. 8 prospect, was back in the lineup in left field Friday against the Pirates after going 1-for-3 with an RBI sacrifice fly Thursday against the Braves.
Not only did Dickerson start consecutive games for the first time, but he also had a chance to face right-handed pitchers -- Julio Teheran on Thursday and the Pirates' Gerrit Cole on Friday. Both are good, young arms, but Dickerson was in a comfortable position.
Because left fielder Carlos Gonzalez hasn't started the past two games with a right middle finger strain and right fielder Michael Cuddyer has missed the past two games due to a family situation, Dickerson has had a chance to be in the lineup.
"I've felt good every time I've started and to be able to start twice is a good thing because I can get a rhythm going," said Dickerson, who said he spent time developing a pinch-hitting routine during his first stint in the Majors. "That's when you see quality at-bats from players. It's hard to pinch-hit, but you've just got to take that role on.
"Just to see right-handers up there is good. I feel good up there, confident, relaxed. This is my second go-round, and I feel a lot more comfortable."
Tulo doesn't sense slip in approach during slide
PITTSBURGH -- As is the case before every series against an opponent they haven't faced, the Rockies had a meeting to discuss strategy before Friday's opener of a three-game set against the Pirates.
It would have been a good time to address possible attitude and approach issues that could creep in when a team is reeling the way the Rockies are. But shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said fire and brimstone aren't necessary, even though the Rockies were outscored, 40-13, while dropping four games in Atlanta. They were cold, and the Braves were hot, and the games went accordingly.
"Just go out, give it all you've got, get back to basics and play the game the right way," said Tulowitzki, who suffered as much as anyone in Atlanta -- 0-for-10, plus an ejection for arguing called strikes Thursday night. "We can't worry about any of that. Hopefully, we can look back at this road trip and say it was good.
"For me, Atlanta was just one of those things you go through in a season. In Atlanta, I struggled, but I'll forget about it and try to put together good at-bats."
One reason Tulowitzki said he doesn't sense a major attitude problem is the approach and intensity of younger players in the lineup, especially second baseman DJ LeMahieu and rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado. LeMahieu has been competitive (.278) in the longest run of extended playing time in his career, while Arenado has dazzled defensively as he adjusts to big league pitching (.251, nine home runs, 35 RBIs).
"They're not overwhelmed and they're playing the game the right way, which is what you look for in younger guys," Tulowitzki said. "No one has quit. We'd be the first to tell someone if we thought they've quit. We're doing our thing and trying to make it work out for us."
Monfort says Rox will pick up De La Rosa's option
PITTSBURGH -- Rockies owner Dick Monfort removed doubt that left-hander Jorge De La Rosa will be back with the club next year Friday, when he said the team will exercise its club option on De La Rosa worth $11 million.
De La Rosa is a rarity: a pitcher whose career took off and didn't tail off while pitching home games at Coors Field. He is 49-33 with a 4.22 ERA in 116 games (110 starts) in purple and black. He also embraces the challenge of pitching at altitude. The money is affordable for many high-paying franchises, and he could bring prospects in a trade, but the Rockies have not made him available.
"If you do try to replace him, it just screws up the next guy because you bring him up too early," Monfort said.
Monfort also said the Rockies will determine whether to pick up the options of two veteran relievers. There are mutual options worth $4.25 million for closer Rafael Betancourt and righty setup man Matt Belisle. The bullpen has stepped up this year the two times Betancourt, usually healthy, went on the disabled list -- first for a right groin injury and currently because of an appendectomy.
Two priorities for next season are shoring up the bullpen and finding a productive right-handed hitter to play first base or right field. Michael Cuddyer can play both positions.
• Cuddyer was not with the team for the second straight game Friday because of a family situation, but manager Walt Weiss said the All-Star is expected to return for Saturday night's game in Pittsburgh.
• Right-handed starter Eddie Butler, the Rockies' supplemental first-round Draft pick in 2012, was promoted to Double-A Tulsa after strong work with Class A Asheville and Class A Advanced Modesto, Baseball America Magazine reported Friday.
• Monfort; several club officials, including senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett; and some players, infielder Jonathan Herrera and catcher Wilin Rosario among them, will go to the Dominican Republic during Monday's off-day for official ceremonies commemorating the opening of the team's new training center outside of Boca Chica. Monfort said the Rockies studied the facilities of other teams and took the best from each in terms of fields, living quarters and classroom training setups.
• Escalona not only gave up five runs on four hits and a walk in one-third of an inning in Thursday's 11-2 loss to the Braves, but he was smoked on the left calf with a line drive. Escalona was limping noticeably around the PNC Park clubhouse Friday and it was doubtful he'd be available against the Pirates.
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.