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Rockies beat Pirates, 3-2, complete 3-game sweep

Getty Images - Home plate umpire Bill Welke calls a balk on Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke as the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon attempted to steal third base in the third inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Home plate umpire Bill Welke calls a balk on Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke as the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon attempted to steal third base in the third inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
AP - Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke works against the Rockies in the fourth inning on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke works against the Rockies in the fourth inning on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
AP - The Pirates' Alex Presley singles against the Rockies in the fifth inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Alex Presley singles against the Rockies in the fifth inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
Getty Images - Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has a discussion with homeplate umpire Bill Welke after he called a balk on starting pitcher Jeff Locke as the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon attempted to steal third base in the third inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has a discussion with homeplate umpire Bill Welke after he called a balk on starting pitcher Jeff Locke as the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon attempted to steal third base in the third inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
Getty Images - The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon slides safely into second with a stolen base as Pirates second baseman Neil Walker takes the throw on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon slides safely into second with a stolen base as Pirates second baseman Neil Walker takes the throw on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
Getty Images - The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen hits an infield single to drive in Clint Barmes and take a 2-0 lead over the Rockies in the third inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen hits an infield single to drive in Clint Barmes and take a 2-0 lead over the Rockies in the third inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
Getty Images - The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez celebrates his solo home run off of Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the second inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez celebrates his solo home run off of Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the second inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
AP - Pirates second baseman Neil Walker jokes with a teammate while facing the Rockies in the first inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates second baseman Neil Walker jokes with a teammate while facing the Rockies in the first inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
AP - The Pirates' Jose Tabata grounds out against the Rockies in the first inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Jose Tabata grounds out against the Rockies in the first inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
AP - Pirates third base coach Nick Leyva (left) congratulates Pedro Alvarez as he circles the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Rockies to lead of the top of the second inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates third base coach Nick Leyva (left) congratulates Pedro Alvarez as he circles the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Rockies to lead of the top of the second inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
AP - Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke works against the Rockies in the first inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke works against the Rockies in the first inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
AP - The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen strikes out while swinging against the Rockies to end the top of the first inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen strikes out while swinging against the Rockies to end the top of the first inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
Getty Images - The Rockies' DJ LeMahieu hits a sacrifce fly to score Charlie Blackmon as Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez backs up the plate and home plate umpire umpire Bill Welke oversees the action in the third inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Rockies' DJ LeMahieu hits a sacrifce fly to score Charlie Blackmon as Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez backs up the plate and home plate umpire umpire Bill Welke oversees the action in the third inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
AP - Pirates manager Clint Hurdle looks on against the Rockies in the first inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates manager Clint Hurdle looks on against the Rockies in the first inning Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
Getty Images - Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke delivers against the Rockies on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke delivers against the Rockies on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, at Coors Field in Denver.

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Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, 7:03 p.m.
 

DENVER — The Pirates got a good start from Jeff Locke but not much else Sunday in a 3-2 loss against the Colorado Rockies.

After taking an early two-run lead, the Pirates managed only one hit from the fourth through the eighth inning. They put runners on second and third with one out in the ninth but failed to score.

A handful of mistakes — a hit batsman, a balk, an infield single and a crucial throwing error — allowed the Rockies to tie the game at 2. They won it by scoring a run in the seventh off reliever Bryan Morris (5-5).

With two outs, Wilin Rosario singled. Morris hung an 0-1 slider, and Nolan Arenado dropped an RBI double into the right-field corner.

It was the Rockies' first three-game sweep of the Pirates since June 19-21, 2009. They won four of six games against the Pirates this season.

“You look at the three games: They hit better than us, pitched better than us and fielded better than us,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “You pack it up and move on.”

The Pirates are off Monday, then limp into an NL Central showdown against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

“Maybe (Monday) will be a day for everyone to unplug,” Locke said. “We played some good baseball here, but not the kind of baseball we're accustomed to playing.”

Locke worked 5 23 innings — he was yanked after throwing 99 pitches — and got a no-decision. The left-hander allowed two runs (one earned) and three hits, walked four and struck out three. He also hit a batter and balked once.

“I think this was a big step forward (for Locke),” Hurdle said. “I see nothing but good.”

Putting runners on base kept Locke from going deeper into the game, but he was let down by the defense. The Pirates made two errors when he was on the mound.

In the second inning, Pedro Alvarez tagged the first pitch from right-hander Chad Bettis for a solo home run, his NL-leading 28th.

It was a positive sign for two reasons. Alvarez has a gash on his left index finger from getting spiked while trying to apply a tag Saturday, but he showed he can grip the bat without problem. Also, Alvarez has been mired in another deep funk since the All-Star break, batting .189 over 23 games.

The Pirates made it 2-0 in the third. Clint Barmes doubled, was sacrificed to third and scored on Andrew McCutchen's infield single.

In the bottom of the third, Locke nicked Charlie Blackmon with a pitch. Blackmon stole second, then went to third on the balk.

“The home plate umpire (Bill Welke) said Jeff's foot didn't clear off the rubber,” catcher Tony Sanchez said. “It was tough to see from my view, but it looked like he stepped off like he should and made a good throw to third. But, the umpire saw something we didn't.”

Right or wrong, the call was huge. Blackmon scored on DJ LeMahieu's sacrifice fly.

A throwing error by Alvarez allowed the Rockies to tie the game in the sixth.

With two outs and Yorvit Torrealba on first, Blackmon singled off the glove of first baseman Garrett Jones. Locke was replaced by left-hander Tony Watson. Pinch hitter Corey Dickerson hit a grounder between short and third. Alvarez fielded it on the run and threw the ball over the head of the 6-foot-4 Jones. Torrealba scored.

In the three-game series, Alvarez had two hits and made three errors. He's made 24 errors — most by any third baseman in the majors — and is on pace to commit a career-high 33.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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