Rockies aim to stop struggle vs. losing teams like Angels

If the Colorado Rockies hope to reach the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in club history, they’ll need to beat the teams they’re expected to beat.

The Rockies will get another chance Tuesday night in the series finale against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium.

The Rockies (71-60) missed an opportunity to move into a tie atop the National League West by blowing a late lead against the Angels on Monday night in a 10-7 loss.

Colorado had moved ahead 7-5 on a grand slam by DJ LeMahieu in the eighth inning and appeared on the verge of handing the Angels their seventh straight defeat, but Los Angeles came back with five runs in the bottom half of the inning courtesy of five walks from the bullpen and a bases-loaded two-out throwing error by shortstop Trevor Story.

The loss left the Rockies a game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost 2-0 at the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.

Colorado fell to 25-25 this season against teams below .500.

They’ll get a chance to improve on that mark over the next eight games, all against teams that entered Tuesday with losing records. On the flip side, Colorado has the second-most victories against teams with winning records (46-35).

During one stretch this summer, Colorado faced 46 consecutive opponents with a winning record, which tied for the longest stretch in NL history. The Rockies went 30-16 in that span.

The Angels (64-68) avoided losing seven in a row for the first time in two years.

Reduced to playing spoiler, Los Angeles was swept over the weekend by the American League West-leading Houston Astros at Angel Stadium.

The Angels took their first lead since Aug. 19 with a four-run fourth inning on Monday night, moving ahead 4-2 on a three-run homer by Shohei Ohtani. Mike Trout then hit his first home run since July 31 to give the Angels a 5-2 lead.

Ohtani is 4-for-8 in his past two starts with two home runs and five RBIs.

“He’s impressive off the charts,” Angels outfielder Eric Young Jr. told Fox Sports West after the game. “The natural talent that he is, I’m glad that we’ve got him on our team.”

Ohtani mainly starts against right-handers, and Colorado is scheduled to start left-hander Kyle Freeland, leaving Angels manager Mike Scioscia with another tough decision.

Freeland (11-7, 2.96 ERA) is 5-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 14 starts since June 16.

Freeland, a Denver native and the eighth overall draft pick in 2014, has pitched at least five innings in his past 14 starts, allowing more than three earned runs just once.

“Kyle’s been so consistent,” Rockies manager Bud Black told MLB.com after his last outing. “That’s the thing I’m really proud of and impressed by, just the consistency over the last 3 1/2 months. He’s taking the ball deep into the game, his strike-throwing ability, his ability to make big pitches at certain key parts of the game — as a second-year pitcher, he’s made big strides since his rookie season.”

Freeland has never faced the Angels in his two-year career.

After 102 major league relief appearances, Angels right-hander Noe Ramirez will make his first career start on Tuesday.

Ramirez (4-4, 4.76 ERA) earned his first career save on Monday night.