NL West Showdown

The Colorado Rockies have certainly picked the perfect time for the longest winning streak in franchise history. It has baseball's hottest team closing in on the second postseason berth in franchise history.

The Rockies look to extend their winning streak to 12 games as they face Brandon Webb and the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the opener of a three-game set at Coors Field on Friday night.

Arizona (89-70) leads San Diego by one game in the NL West and Colorado (87-72) by two, and the Padres currently hold the wild card lead. If the Rockies lose Friday, they will be eliminated from contention for the division title.

Colorado, however, hasn't lost since Sept. 15 and completed a perfect six-game road trip with a 10-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday. Brad Hawpe hit his 29th homer and drove in four runs, and Garrett Atkins went 4-for-4 and scored three times.

"I don't think anyone thought we had to win 11 straight just to stay in this thing," Hawpe said. "We've been excited about what we've done, where we're at. We're looking toward what we're doing in the next game and not worrying about the big picture."

Hawpe was outstanding on the trip, going 12-for-26 (.462) with three homers and 10 RBIs. He's also 7-for-12 with three homers and 10 RBIs against Webb this season.

Webb (17-10, 3.02 ERA) is 3-0 with a 3.91 ERA in his last four outings, but he has yet to beat Colorado this year, going 0-3 with a 6.47 ERA in five starts.

"I owe them for at least five games now. It seems I owe them one," Webb said. "I'm definitely confident going out there. Hopefully I can come back out with a strong one."

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Colorado -125 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on Colorado -125 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Manager Bob Melvin pushed back Webb's scheduled start at Pittsburgh on Thursday because of the possibility of a lengthy rain delay. The move paid off as fill-in starter Micah Owings yielded four hits over 6 1-3 innings and also went 4-for-4 with three RBIs as the Diamondbacks snapped a three-game skid with an 8-0 victory.

"It's a relief that we win a game here, that we got the game in and we didn't get burned because we were trying to hold Webb back," Melvin said. "It was a very big win for us."

Webb is 5-3 with a 2.20 ERA when pitching on five days' rest and wasn't unhappy about getting the extra day off.

"I woke up today like I was pitching but, when we looked over the weather thing, I agreed," he said. "I don't want to go out there and start it and throw two innings and then be done for either the season or have to come back on a short day.

"I'd rather come back tomorrow (Friday) and throw a regular start."

The right-hander beat the Los Angeles Dodgers last Saturday by allowing two runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 6-2 victory.

The Rockies are also sending their best pitcher to the mound in Jeff Francis (17-8, 4.17), who can set a single-season franchise record for victories. Kevin Ritz set the mark of 17 wins in 1996, and Pedro Astacio matched him three years later.

Francis is 7-1 with a 3.35 ERA in 13 career starts against the Diamondbacks, including 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two outings this season.

The left-hander has won both of his starts during the Rockies' winning streak, including Sunday's outing at San Diego, where he gave up two runs over eight innings in a 7-3 victory.

The Diamondbacks have split six games at Coors Field this year, with Eric Byrnes hitting .444 (12-for-27). Colorado first baseman Todd Helton, who has never been to the postseason in his 11-year career, is batting .364 (20-for-55) against Arizona in 2007.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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