Friday, June 29, 2012

Colorado Rockies light up San Diego Padres in 10-2 victory - Denver Post

The Rockies' Wilin Rosario scores as Padres catcher John Baker waits for the throw during the third inning Friday at Coors Field. (Jack Dempsey, The Associated Press)

They came for the fireworks, but a paid crowd of 42,785 at Coors Field got to see the Rockies stage one of their best shows of the season Friday night.

Behind a vintage start by veteran Jeff Francis and a potent offense, the Rockies routed the Padres 10-2. It was the Rockies' second straight victory, the first time they have accomplished that since June 3-4 when they beat the Dodgers and then the Diamondbacks.

"Tonight was an example of who we are and what we are capable of when we get a start like we got tonight from Jeff Francis," manager Jim Tracy said.

Turning point. Combining power, speed, hustle and sloppy Padres defense, the Rockies scored four runs in the sixth inning against former Rockies

all-star Jason Marquis.

Carlos Gonzales drove in Dexter Fowler with a triple, then dusted himself off and walked home after second baseman Logan Forsythe sailed a throw into the seats down the third base line.

Michael Cuddyer broke out of his June swoon with a hustle double and scored on Tyler Colvin's triple to right. Colvin scored when San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera muffed Chris Nelson's chopper.

On the mound. Francis conjured up visions of the 2007 season when he helped lead the Rockies to the World Series. The smooth left-hander worked six scoreless inning, allowing just three hits. Deftly mixing his fastball with off-speed pitches, he kept the Padres off balance, inducing weak flyballs and easy groundouts.

"I have been commanding both my curveball and changeup, throwing both for strikes," Francis said. "And I have also been able to throw my curveball out of the zone when I need to."

Francis threw 82 pitches, exceeding the 75-pitch limit that is a built-in component of the Rockies' newfangled pitching rotation.

It was Francis' second consecutive strong start. He allowed two runs on five hits and struck out five over five innings against the Nationals on Monday. He

Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Francis delivers against the Padres on Friday at Coors Field. Francis did not allow a run in six innings. (Jack Dempsey, The Associated Press)

said, however, that he's content with his place in a system that has him pitching every fourth day.

Right-hander Tyler Chatwood, called up Friday, was not ready for his big-league close up. Carlos Quentin greeted him with a solo homer in the seventh. Chatwood got in a mess of trouble in the eighth, giving up a run and leaving two men on with no outs before he got the hook.

Tracy had hoped Chatwood would finish the game, but Chatwood wasn't up to the task.

Rex Brothers cleaned up the mess in dominating fashion, striking out Chase Headley and Quentin and getting Yonder Alonso to line out to right. Brothers pumped his fist as he came off the mound.

Tracy called Brother's strikeout of Headly on a 3-2 count, "the pitch of the game."

"The job of the bullpen is to come in late in the game and lock things down," Brothers said. "So my mind set was to stop things in their tracks, right now."

At the plate. Cuddyer, who entered the night hitting .207 in June, slugged a two-run homer in the eighth, extending the Rockies' lead to 8-2.

Wilin Rosario provided a fireworks preview in the eighth, jacking a two-run shot deep into the left-field bleachers. It was the catcher's 12th home run of the season, best among all big-league rookies. He also leads all MLB rookies with 34 RBIs.

Marco Scutaro, who beat the Nationals with a walkoff single in the 11th inning on Thursday night, continues to crank out hits and runs. Scutaro doubled and scored in the first, then singled home Rosario in the third, giving the Rockies a 2-0 lead. Scutaro, hitting 7-for-15 on the current homestand, lifted his average to .287.

What it means. We know the Rockies can hit, but when they pitch well, it's a big deal. Francis struck out just one batter, but he also walked just one. In the span of five days he's proving that a smart, cool-headed pitcher can succeed at Coors Field.

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