DENVER -- The new, old-fashioned windup of right-handed pitcher Ross Ohlendorf helped him shut down the Rockies and kept a Coors Field crowd of 30,304 in library-like silence as the Nationals won, 5-1, on Wednesday night.
Ohlendorf (1-0) went six innings and held the Rockies to two hits -- the second being Carlos Gonzalez's two-out triple in the sixth inning for his team-leading 52nd RBI -- and struck out two against two walks. It was a nice big league return for Ohlendorf, who hadn't pitched in the Majors since Aug. 17 of last year and spent this season at Triple-A Syracuse until the Nationals needed him for their injury-plagued rotation.
"He was good, spotted up, had made some adjustments from the last time I remember facing him," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "His windup was a little bit different. He did a good job. There were some balls hit hard right at people, but overall, he did a good job.
"More than anything, [the windup] shows that the guy was working on something, trying something different. I don't think it was necessarily affecting us or throwing anybody off."
The Rockies remained in second place in the National League West, but fell to 3-3 on a 10-game homestand that has one more game left with the Nationals on Thursday afternoon, plus three with the Phillies over the weekend. The Rockies and Nationals have split the first two games of the series
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said it was what Ohlendorf threw as well as how he looked doing it that helped him stymie the Rockies.
"He mixed it up, basically, never really fell into patterns or sequences," Weiss said. "He used his fastball well, used his breaking ball off of that. There was some deception."
The Rockies had a couple of chances to gain traction. Tulowtizki, who entered the game leading the NL in batting before going 0-for-4, narrowly missed a homer on his towering drive down the left-field line that curved foul in the sixth. It was right after Gonzalez's triple. Tulowitzki ended the at-bat with a flyout to deep center to end the inning.
In the next inning, Nolan Arenado's drive against Ian Krol went just wide of the left-field foul pole before he grounded out.
The last time Ohlendorf started at Coors Field was July 28, 2010, while pitching for the Pirates. Tulowitzki lined a pitch off Ohlendorf's head in the first inning and he had to be replaced. This time it's a more conventional memory, and a happier one for Ohlendorf.
"I've been feeling really good all season, this is the best I've felt in a long time," Ohlendorf said. "I was really happy we were able to get a win, just a fun game for me."
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Ohlendorf "used the curveball and slider, used both sides of the plate, and I liked his windup, too. That reminded me of some old-fashioned windups."
Fearing their pitching was fatiguing and that dealing with nagging injuries would catch up with them, the Rockies designated outfielder and fan favorite Eric Young Jr. for assignment and called up right-hander Chris Volstad from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Wednesday. The bullpen has been affected by injuries to Rafael Betancourt (right groin) and Edgmer Escalona (right elbow), and several starters are dealing with nagging issues.
Starting left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (7-4), who was being watched closely because of a cut on his middle finger which he sustained during his last start, gave up three runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings. De La Rosa managed five strikeouts against three walks.
"Jorge checked out OK," Weiss said. "He struggled through some of his outing, but in the end, he kept us close enough to win the game. He had to work pretty hard, threw a lot of pitches ."
De La Rosa left after Ryan Zimmerman's RBI double in the fifth -- on a play when center fielder Dexter Fowler, whose glove tipped the ball, and left fielder Gonzalez collided. Both players stayed in the game.
Ian Desmond singled off reliever Adam Ottavino for two runs in the fifth. Doubles by Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon off Volstad in the eighth gave the Nationals a 5-1 lead.
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.