Blackburn pitches seven strong as Twins down slumping Rockies

DENVER (AP) -- Clint Barmes has never felt this locked in. Too bad the rest of the Colorado Rockies don't feel the same way.

Barmes was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle and raised his average to .355, but his big night was wasted as the Rockies lost their sixth straight, 4-2, to the Minnesota Twins on Friday.

"With the streak we've got going now, it's not been fun," Barmes said.

Nick Blackburn (4-2) struck out five and didn't walk a batter in seven strong innings, and Delmon Young doubled twice and scored two runs to help the Twins end a three-game losing streak. Joe Nathan remained perfect in 13 save opportunities.

It has been a struggle for the defending National League champions. The Rockies have lost eight of 11, and they fell to 7-11 at home. At 15-27, Colorado is 12 games below .500 for the first time since Sept. 16, 2006, when it was 68-80.

"We've got to keep playing," said Barmes, who has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games. "This thing's got to turn."

This time, they couldn't blame the starting pitching. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-4), who hasn't won since April 8, struck out five and walked one in seven innings.

"He pitched a ballgame today," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "All he can do is pitch, and we've got to find ways to create offense. We weren't able to get much off of their starter."

The game was tied 2-all when Young, who had three hits, started the winning rally with a leadoff double in the sixth. He moved to third on a flyout by Mike Lamb and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Everett.

"That was a good bit of baserunning," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He read it, got back, tagged up and got there."

Young's two doubles gave him just six extra-base hits this season. He had three doubles and a triple entering Friday's game.

"A lot of people think he's been around a long time, but he's a young player, he's very aggressive," Gardenhire said.

The Twins added an insurance run with another sacrifice fly by Everett in the eighth.

The Rockies put runners on the corners with two outs in the eighth, but Todd Helton bounced out to relief pitcher Dennys Reyes.

"We had opportunities again, and we weren't able to cash in," Hurdle said. "That complete game is still eluding us in all facets."

In the third inning, Carlos Gomez reached on a two-out single and moved to second on Helton's error on a pickoff attempt. After Brendan Harris walked, Joe Mauer singled up the middle to make it 1-0.

In the fourth, Michael Cuddyer doubled with one out and Lamb followed with a bloop single to right to make it 2-0.

The Rockies got the two runs back in their half of the fourth. Willy Taveras led off with an infield single, Barmes tripled to right and then scored on a groundout to shortstop.

After that, Blackburn settled down. He allowed just two hits over the next three innings, and with Barmes on third with two outs in the sixth, he struck out Garrett Atkins to end the inning.

"I'd heard about the thin air and the high altitude and stuff, but it's nothing more special than winning anywhere else," he said.

Game notes
Twins INF Matt Tolbert was scheduled to have an MRI done on his left thumb prior to Friday's game. Tolbert was hurt diving into first base on the last play of Minnesota's loss to Toronto on Thursday. ... Colorado LF Matt Holliday was a late scratch from the lineup with lower back tightness. ... Mauer has hit safely in 23 of his last 25 games. ... Rockies head trainer Keith Dugger said SS Troy Tulowitzki (torn left quad muscle) is playing light catch and hit off the tee this week. His return is still undetermined. ... Dugger said Rockies RHP Jason Hirsh (shoulder) threw three innings and 45 pitches in a simulated game Friday and RHP Luis Vizcaino (shoulder) threw two innings and 25 pitches Friday. Both were pain free.