LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies no longer have to deal with Dodgers star center fielder Matt Kemp. They no longer have to pitch to Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, a superstar against them this season. Even better than any of that, they no longer have to play Sunday games this season.The Rockies' 7-1 loss at Dodger Stadium on Sunday afternoon put to a finish a troublesome chapter to the worst season in franchise history. In closing the year with three games against the D-backs starting Monday, the Rockies (62-97) -- already with two more losses than in any previous season -- must win at least one to avoid reaching the 100-loss loss mark. Kemp's two-run homer was his third in the last two games of the three-game sweep by the Dodgers, who remained two games behind the Cardinals in their chase for the second National League Wild Card spot. Any combination of two Cardinals wins or Dodgers losses eliminates Los Angeles. Kemp's homer was one of two two-run shots in the fourth inning off Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa (0-2), who also served up Luis Cruz's homer. De La Rosa gave up five hits and four runs in four innings, with all but one of the hits occurring in that fourth. De La Rosa struck out three, however, in the last of his three-start cameo after returning from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last June. Ellis' two-run homer came in the sixth against Alex White. Five of Ellis' 12 home runs and 18 of his 50 RBIs have come against the Rockies. "The home run ball got us," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Jorge started out and his tempo, his mechanics, his delivery looked as good as I've seen it in the three times he's been out there. He made a couple of bad pitches, and he paid for them." De La Rosa, who will continue working in instructional ball and would like to play winter ball in his native Mexico -- if he receives the Rockies' blessing -- thought he had his moments. "I think I threw much better," De La Rosa said. "The first three innings were very good, but they made good adjustments after that. The pitch against Kemp, I think he can get the ball away very good. I made a mistake. With Cruz, I tried to throw the slider in, but it started spinning right in the middle. "I don't want to make excuses, but I've been pitching in the Minors for a bit and it was only my third start here. I feel much better. I hope to come in stronger next year and win a lot of games for this team." The loss dropped the Rockies to 5-21 on Sundays this season. Last year's 6-19 record garnered more attention because they lost 17 straight on Sunday -- often in rubber games of series. This year, Sundays were almost as unsuccessful as Saturdays, when they went 5-20. Not that the Dodgers had much sympathy. They needed the three games. "It's almost like you don't look at it as a series as much as you look at it every day," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "You've got to put a win on the board and continue to put pressure on St. Louis." After being shut out by the Dodgers in two previous games, the Rockies had the experience of scoring when Andrew Brown homered to lead off the top of the fourth against Josh Beckett (7-14, 2-3 since joining the Dodgers in a trade with the Red Sox). The Rockies had nine hits and had chances, but left 12 on base. Down to nine healthy position players, the Rockies had to reach into the fall instructional program to call up Rafael Ortega, 21, who had spent the year at Class A Modesto. Ortega started in center field, batted second and contributed two hits -- an infield single in the first and a surprise bunt single in the fifth. He was also hit in the right leg by a pitch in the ninth inning, but stayed in the game. "For our young guys to go out there and battle their rear ends off against some guys that have been playing in this league for a while, you have to give them credit," Tracy said. After the game, Ortega wore a cut-up autographed baseball around his neck, which he was told was the ball from his first hit. It wasn't clear if he believed it, or if he understood it was a joke and a caring veteran had saved the actual ball properly. Ortega said he doesn't think the damage to his leg is serious but will be sore Monday. However, he was feeling little pain while basking in the glow of his debut. "The foul ball [before the hit] I felt a little bit nervous, but after that I was all right," Ortega said. "I was comfortable."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.