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Tribe derailed by Rockies in opener

Tribe derailed by Rockies

DENVER -- Coming to Coors Field on Tuesday was, in some ways, a cruel reminder for the Indians of their flop last fall.

When the Indians squandered a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series against the Red Sox, they also squandered an opportunity to play the Rockies in the World Series.

"Driving to the stadium, I thought about how it might have been here," first baseman Ryan Garko said. "Both teams are obviously in a lot different spot now. But it would have been fun to play here with the place packed."

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Playing here on this particular night, in which a 10-2 loss in the opener of a three-game Interleague set was the end result, wasn't much fun at all for the Indians and starter Paul Byrd, in particular.

The humidor that has drastically cut down on the number of home-run balls flying out of Coors didn't do much good for Byrd. In fact, even when Byrd kept the ball in the park Tuesday night, he still managed to give up another of the many home runs that have plagued him in 2008.

Byrd was beaten soundly for his second straight start, and the Indians' bats backed him with little more than a bunch of loud outs.

"It just didn't happen for us," Byrd said.

What has happened quite often this season is Byrd serving up the long ball. In the commodious confines of Coors, he found a different way to do so.

The Rockies had a man on and two out in the third, when Jeff Baker hit a fly ball to right-center field that Grady Sizemore couldn't get to. Baker legged it into an inside-the-park homer that made it 2-0.

"The ball Baker hit was not a bad pitch," manager Eric Wedge said. "It was down, and he just scooped it out of there."

But Byrd did make a bad pitch to Brad Hawpe with a runner on and one out in the fourth. He left a slider up and on the outside part of the plate, and Hawpe hammered it to the opposite field in left to make it 4-0.

That was the 19th homer Byrd has allowed this season -- by far the most in the American League.

"They're up a little bit," Byrd said of his homer total, which was 27 last season. "It seems I'm giving up the long ball a little more than usual. I've got to find a way to keep the ball down."

After the Hawpe homer, the Rockies hammered Byrd into an early exit. In the fifth, Jeff Baker led off with a single and Matt Holliday knocked him in with a double that also knocked Byrd out.

So Byrd went just four-plus innings, giving up five runs on nine hits. And this after he allowed five earned runs on six hits in just three innings against the Twins last week.

But Byrd didn't seem overly concerned with this rough outing.

"Honestly, I thought I threw the ball well," he said. "I'm a fly-ball pitcher, and I got some fly balls. It just didn't work out tonight. If we played to the left, they hit it to the right, and vice versa. It's one of those where I just made the pitches, and it just didn't work out."

Things didn't work out very well for the offense, either. The Indians hit some balls hard against Rockies rookie Greg Reynolds but had little to show for it, aside from Casey Blake's sixth-inning sacrifice fly.

The Indians had a chance to make this a legitimate ballgame in the sixth. They were down, 5-1, but they had the bases loaded and none out against Reynolds.

Garko, however, fouled off a 2-1 curveball then swung and missed at a wicked sinker. Shin-Soo Choo then ripped a liner straight into the glove of shortstop Omar Quintanilla, who threw to second to catch Jamey Carroll off the bag for the blink-and-you-missed-it double play.

"It was one of those nights where we hit a lot of balls hard, but right at 'em," Wedge said. "We could have had 12, 13, or 14 hits tonight. I wasn't disappointed with our at-bats at all. We just let them off the hook."

Any chance the Indians had of creeping back in this ballgame dissipated when Garret Atkins lined a two-run single to left off reliever Scott Elarton in the sixth. The Rox went on to make it a laugher with three runs off Rick Bauer in the seventh.

This was not the start the Indians wanted for their six-game swing through NL West territory.

"This is one of those you just forget about and move on," Garko said. "We have five games left, and they're all important."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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