DENVER — Eddie Butler struggled on the mound for the second straight start. His problems off the mound hurt him, too.
"He just hasn't been able to reel it in once it starts getting away from him," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "The command is the biggest thing. That's what's been the difference the last couple of times out."
The Phillies took a 2-0 lead at the outset against Butler (2-5), who labored to get through a 43-pitch first inning. He had a chance to escape unscathed but with two on and two outs, he short-hopped a throw to first on Maikel Franco's comebacker for an error, allowing Howard to score from third.
"I figured he was farther down the line. I didn't get my head around to see where he was and I didn't hear anything if I had time or not," Butler said. "I didn't want to airmail it, I figured bouncing it was a better option. I went back and looked at the video. I clearly had a lot of time and I could have set myself and made a good throw."
Jeff Francouer followed with an RBI single.
Butler, who lasted just 2 2-3 innings in a 6-4 loss to the Dodgers last week, did little better against the Phillies in losing his fourth straight. He went three innings and gave up six hits and four runs, including Ryan Howard's leadoff shot in the third for his eighth home run of the season.
"I didn't feel like it was that bad of a pitch," Butler said. "It was middle-away, a couple of inches above the knees. That was the only problem with it. If that pitch is 3 inches farther down it's probably a chopped ball in the infield.
"If you get behind it doesn't matter what you're doing, it's tough to be successful that way."
Howard also doubled in the seventh to finish a triple shy of the cycle.
Rookie Severino Gonzalez pitched five solid innings for Philadelphia, which has won seven of eight games.
Gonzalez (2-1), recalled prior to the game from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, allowed a run on five hits in his third big league start. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 11 chances.
The Rockies, who have lost 15 of 18, did get a small victory Wednesday. They fanned only four times to end a streak of seven straight games of 10 or more strikeouts. They came within a game of tying the 2011 San Diego Padres for the longest streak since 1900, according to the Rockies.
Gonzalez retired the first nine Rockies he faced before Charlie Blackmon singed to start the fourth. After Blackmon stole second, he scored on Carlos Gonzalez's single.
A couple of base-running mistakes also figured in the Rockies' loss. Wilin Rosario was thrown out to end the fourth trying to stretch a single to a double, and in the fifth, Ben Paulsen was doubled off first after Odubel Herrera made a running catch of Nick Hundley's drive to center.
"We kept making outs on the bases," Weiss said. "(Rosario) saw the ball going to third and he tried to make an aggressive play." The shortstop did a nice job, he never hesitated. He wheeled around and threw to second base immediately. Wilin thought that ball was going to be relayed to third."
Rockies: Struggling outfielder Drew Stubbs has been optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque and outfielder Brandon Barnes was recalled from the Isotopes. Stubbs was hitting .118 and had struck out 31 times in 51 at-bats. Barnes spent most of last season with the Rockies and was hitting .205 in 33 games for Albuquerque since being optioned April 1. He flied out as a pinch hitter in the seventh.
Phillies: RHP Hector Neris was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to clear a roster spot for Gonzalez.
Phillies first base coach Juan Samuel will not be with the team Thursday and Friday while he attends the graduation of his daughter Noemi Samuel Del Rosario from law school at Barry University in Orlando, Florida.
Phillies: RHP Jerome Williams (3-3) will be seeking to win consecutive starts for the second time this season in the finale of the four-game series Thursday.
Rockies: LHP Jorge De La Rosa (1-2) looks to improve on his strong record at Coors Field, where he is 45-15 with a 4.16 ERA in 84 games, including 79 starts.