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Colorado offence struggles again as Rockies fall to Indians 5-2

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CLEVELAND - The Colorado Rockies hoped to end a rough trip on a good note against the last-place Cleveland Indians.

Instead, their frustration is growing.

Colorado's offensive struggles continued in Friday night's 5-2 loss.

Other than a two-run homer by Carlos Gonzalez in the fourth inning, the Rockies did little against Corey Kluber and dropped to 2-5 during the nine-game road trip, scoring three runs or less six times.

The effects of the trip boiled over in the sixth, when Michael Cuddyer was called out on strikes by plate umpire John Tumpane. Cuddyer angrily argued the call before being pulled away. Rockies manager Walt Weiss continued the argument and was ejected for the first time in his managerial career.

"Just trying to keep Cuddy in the game there and just had questions about the strike zone, that's all," Weiss said.

Weiss isn't sensing his players pressing at the plate, though, despite the unusual lack of production from the NL's best offence.

"Every once in a while you run into a hot pitcher like we did with Kluber tonight," Weiss said. "Just stay the course and keep battling. We're a good offensive club, but we got shut down by a good pitcher tonight."

The Rockies held a 2-1 lead going into the fifth. Corey Dickerson, the team's DH, led off the fourth with a double, the Rockies' first hit of the game. After Troy Tulowitzki grounded to third, Gonzalez hit his eighth homer of the year to right-centre to give Colorado the lead.

That was all the Rockies could manage against Kluber, who struck out 12 in 7 1-3 innings.

Gonzalez returned to the lineup after not starting Wednesday because of a sore right calf. He fouled a pitch off his leg Tuesday and left the game, and was limited to pinch-hitting duties Wednesday. His home run snapped an 0-for-11 slump, but Colorado has 16 runs in the first seven games of the trip and is 5 for 51 with runners in scoring position.

Juan Nicasio (5-3) pitched 4 2-3 innings, giving up nine hits and five runs. Cleveland chased him with a four-run fifth. Michael Bourn's single tied the game before Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run homer put Cleveland ahead. Lonnie Chisenhall, who drove in two runs, added an RBI double.

"I made a lot of good pitches until the fifth inning," Nicasio said. "In the fifth inning I threw my fastball up in the zone."

Kluber (6-3), who struck out a career-high 13 on May 4 against the Chicago White Sox, finished the month with 60 strikeouts in 43 innings. The Rockies entered the game with the fewest strikeouts as a team in the NL.

As to what was working for Kluber on Friday, shortstop Charlie Culberson summed it up.

"Everything," he said.

The right-hander allowed five hits with one walk and was given a standing ovation by the crowd of 25,066 when he was pulled after retiring the first batter in the eighth. He ends the month with a 4-0 record and a 2.09 ERA in six starts.

Kluber struck out the side in the third. He took control after Gonzalez's homer in the fourth. Seven of the next nine outs were strikeouts and he got Culberson to bounce into a double play to end the seventh.

The Rockies had two on with two outs in the fifth after consecutive singles by DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon, but Dickerson struck out to end the inning and Colorado's last true offensive threat. They only had one baserunner the rest of the game.

Cody Allen earned his second save of the season.

Cuddyer had his eight-game hitting streak snapped. After going 0 for 4 Friday, Troy Tulowitzki is hitting .227 on the road trip with two RBIs, but he's still batting .360 for the season.

The Rockies dropped two of three in Atlanta to start the trip and then lost two of three in Philadelphia, including a walk-off defeat in the series finale Wednesday on Ryan Howard's three-run homer.

NOTES: Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado (broken finger) visited doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, who confirmed the diagnosis of Colorado team doctors that he won't need surgery. The plan is to let the finger heal on its own and there's no timetable for his return. ... Nicasio failed to complete five innings for the first time in May. ... Colorado is 12-19 on the road. ... Rockies LHP Franklin Morales faces RHP Trevor Bauer on Saturday.

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