Rockies Complete Sweep of Pirates

DENVER – After losing an early lead and another game at Coors Field, the Pittsburgh Pirates were ready for a break.

The NL Central leaders got swept in a three-game series, beaten by the Colorado Rockies 3-2 on Sunday.

The Pirates hold a three-game edge in the division on the Cardinals, and begin a three-game series at St. Louis on Tuesday night.

But before playing at Busch Stadium, an off-day for the Bucs.

“It will be a day for everybody to unplug, just kind of get away from it for a day,” said Pirates starter Jef Locke, who pitched 5 2-3 effective innings and rebounded from three sub-par starts.

“Not that anybody feels like they need to or anything like that. We’ve played some good baseball here, but not the kind of baseball that we’re accustomed to playing right now,” he said. “But every team goes through things like this. If it was seven, eight games and not three, it’d be a lot different story.”

Nolan Arenado doubled home the go-ahead run with two outs in the seventh off Bryan Morris (5-5). The hit drove in Wilin Rosario, who singled ahead of Arenado.

Pedro Alvarez homered for the Pirates, who came to Coors Field this weekend with a five-game winning streak.

“At the end of the day, you look at the three games, they pitched better than us, they hit better than us, they fielded better than us,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “So you just move on. You honestly self-evaluate and move on and get ready to play in St. Louis.”

The Pirates were last swept in a series on June 3-5 against the Braves.

Matt Belisle pitched a perfect eighth before giving way to Rex Brothers, who worked a shaky ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances as he pitched for the third straight day.

The Pirates loaded the bases with a single, double and intentional walk before Brothers got Alex Presley to pop out to third to end the game.

Alvarez showed no ill effects from taking a spike to his mitt from Dexter Fowler on Saturday. Alvarez hit the first pitch he saw from rookie Chad Bettis, who pitched six innings in his third major league start and Coors Field debut, to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

It was Alvarez’s NL-leading 28th home run of the season. Manuel Corpas (1-2) pitched a scoreless seventh to get the victory.

Andrew McCutchen drove in Clint Barmes with an infield single in the third to make it 2-0.

Locke, who took the mound with a major-league leading 1.83 road ERA, had gone 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA in his past three starts, allowing 27 hits in 16 1-3 innings.

“Today was definitely a step back in the right direction mechanically, mentally,” said Locke, who is 9-3 with a 2.43 ERA in 23 starts. “Everything felt back to normal today.”