Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Chris Stewart, right, confers with starting pitcher Jeff Locke after he gave up a triple to Colorado Rockies' Ryan Raburn in the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 9, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski
June 09, 2016

DENVER (AP) Jorge De La Rosa lost command of his fastball, his confidence and ultimately his spot in the rotation.

A stint in the bullpen may have just turned things around for the franchise's all-time leader in wins and strikeouts.

The left-hander settled down a slugfest with four perfect innings out of the bullpen and the Colorado Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-5 on Thursday.

It resembled the De La Rosa of old, the one not afraid to use his curve to accompany his blazing fastball.

''He did a really nice job,'' manager Walt Weiss said. ''(The demotion) was a tough pill to swallow for a guy who's been the best pitcher in franchise history, really. But he's handled it well. He went back to the drawing board and is in a good place.''

De La Rosa (2-4) retired all 12 batters he faced after starter Chad Bettis struggled. De La Rosa also brought in a run with a bunt.

As for when he might return to the rotation, those are ''conversations we'll continue to have,'' Weiss said. ''That was always the big-picture plan.''

The game with the Pirates was a makeup of the April 28 contest that was postponed by weather.

DJ LeMahieu homered, doubled and drove in three runs, while Ryan Raburn, Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado each drove in two runs as Colorado snapped an eight-game skid to the Pirates at Coors Field.

Jeff Locke (5-4) had his four-game winning streak halted. He surrendered a career-high 11 runs and saw his ERA soar from 4.28 to 5.38.

This was a drastic change from the way Locke pitched at Coors Field on April 25. That day, he threw six scoreless innings and struck out eight.

''Just a really bad day,'' Locke explained. ''It went exactly the opposite way you want it to.''

The Rockies arrived in town from Los Angeles at 3:12 a.m. Thursday, but their bats never slumbered. The only position player not to have a hit was Mark Reynolds, who did drive in a run with a ground out in a four-run first that helped set the tone.

''It's good to see us play the way we did under the circumstances,'' LeMahieu said.

Pittsburgh interrupted a long homestand for the quick turn-around trip to Colorado. Down 6-1 in the third, the Pirates scored four times off Bettis. David Freese led the surge with a three-run homer.

The Pirates only had one baserunner after the third inning - a walk by Freese in the eighth.

That was due to Rockies relievers led by De La Rosa. The struggling lefty was moved to the bullpen on May 25 to hone his mechanics, but rediscovered his command by striking out five. He was helped out by Arenado, who made two phenomenal barehanded plays at third base.

''That's the most comfortable and consistent I've seen him on the mound,'' said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who managed De La Rosa when Hurdle was the skipper in Colorado. ''He threw strikes with all of his pitches.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: Due to a worn-out pitching staff, the Pirates optioned RHP Jameson Taillon to Triple-A Indianapolis and recalled LHP Kyle Lobstein, who threw 2 1-3 scoreless innings. ... OF Starling Marte (bruised left ankle) returned to the starting lineup Thursday. He had an RBI single in the first.

Rockies: OF Carlos Gonzalez was given the day off. He's coming off a series in Los Angeles where he struck out 10 times over three games. ... C Tony Wolters (concussion) will begin a rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Albuquerque.

PENGUINS FEVER

The Pirates donned Penguins jerseys for the plane ride in support of their city's sports brethren playing in the Stanley Cup final against San Jose.

Hurdle even had four tickets to Game 5 on Thursday night in Pittsburgh, but obviously couldn't use them. He gave the coveted seats to his sister.

''I've never witnessed a Stanley Cup playoff game,'' Hurdle said. ''I'm not taking it personally; I'm going to embrace my sister and brother-in-law's joy.''

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (5-4) remained in Pittsburgh to get ready for his start Friday against St. Louis. The Cardinals will throw RHP Michael Wacha (2-6).

Rockies: RHP Jon Gray (4-2) will make his second straight start against San Diego on Friday. He struck out a career-high 12 in seven innings last Sunday at San Diego.

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