The Rockies did everything but burn Norris at the stake.
Colorado lit into Norris for nine runs in the first two innings to polish off a sweep of a four-game series with an 11-5 victory over the Astros on Thursday night at Coors Field.
Norris came into the game 4-0 over five starts in May, with a big-league-best 1.17 ERA in the month. He left after 1 2/3 innings -- the second-shortest start of his career -- having allowed a career-high nine runs. Trying to work through a sore hip flexor that had him throwing cautiously, Norris allowed four earned runs before he'd retired a batter, the same number of earned runs he'd given up all month.
The first-inning woes continued a trend in the series. The Rockies scored 15 of their 40 runs in the first inning.
"Tough trip for us," Norris said. "I really wanted to go out there and have a good one. The hip flexor was a little sore, and I tweaked it bad, and that didn't help. I tried to bulldog through it, but I made a couple mistakes, and they've been swinging the bat well."
The Astros have had a lot of tough trips. Their 1-6 record on their latest trip drops them to 6-19 overall on the road. Manager Brad Mills has given the matter some thought.
"One of the biggest things is, we don't get our opportunity to come out and do a lot of our early work (on the road)," Mills said. "We can do that at home, and we come out do a lot of infield work, a lot of running. Pitchers hit on the field. Does that have anything to do with it? It might, as far as getting ready to play."
Looks as if the Astros won't be easing up on the early work at home anytime soon.
"When you say easing up, it sounds like a grind for these guys," Mills said. "And I don't think it is. I think it's something they really enjoy, because they know they're getting better. It's not meant as a punishment or a forceful-type event. It's something you go through to help you get better, and the guys realize that."
Astros Notes & Quotes
"Really, it's not just about one start," Norris said. "It's about 30 you make, and how many innings you eat up and how you can keep this team in the ballgame and winning games. I'm going to look at it, get some info out of it, but I'm going to try to flush it. We've still got a lot left in this season. I've still got a lot left in me."