|Rockies win six straight for first time since 2002|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 28 May 2007 22:25|
Francis scattered five hits in 7 2-3 innings to lead the Rockies past the stumbling St. Louis Cardinals 6-2 on Monday for sixth straight victory.
The left-hander, who joined the Rockies in 2004, can't explain why the Rockies have broken out of their funk, only saying the team has started combining their pitching and hitting.
``Since I've been here, the biggest problem has been putting it together for a stretch,'' said Francis (4-4). ``It's what we've expected. We're not satisfied at six.''
Even more surprising is that the first five wins came on the road, in Arizona and San Francisco.
``I think we've always expected this out of ourselves,'' said Francis, who is 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA in May. ``Nobody motivates us more than ourselves. We're not out here winning so they're not writing bad things about us.''
The Rockies see the win as another step in the right direction. The team hasn't won seven games in a row since September 1998.
Colorado had come under fire before its winning streak, not that manager Clint Hurdle paid any attention to the criticism.
``I don't read the papers,'' Hurdle said. ``I've heard rumblings. But you talk about staying focused on the game at hand.''
Brad Hawpe hit a two-run homer in the seventh and Matt Holliday hit a solo homer in the first, his ninth. Kaz Matsui scored two runs on two singles and Willy Taveras finished 2-for-4 with two stolen bases.
``I think we're expecting to come up with the big plays in big situations,'' Holliday said. ``We're having fun.''
Francis had a shutout going into the eighth when Aaron Miles doubled with two outs and So Taguchi hit a two-run homer to left, his first of the season. It was Francis' only mistake of the game.
Miles was impressed with his former teammate.
``When he's pitching where he wants to, he's really tough,'' Miles said. ``It's why he fast-forwarded through the minor leagues - nobody could hit him there.
``He had a little bit of trouble in the beginning of his career here, but it looks like he's settling into a pretty good pitcher.''
In other NL games, it was: Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 0; Atlanta 2, Milwaukee 1; Florida 5, Chicago 3; and Arizona 5, Philadelphia 4.
The Cardinals lost for the 11th time in the last 13 road games.
Francis worked his way out of a two-out jam in the sixth. He gave up singles to Miles and Taguchi and then pitched around Albert Pujols to load the bases. Scott Spiezio hit into an inning-ending force play at second.
``We made a lot of outs that were not quality outs,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ``That's how I see today's game.''
Kip Wells (2-9) gave up 11 hits in 6 1-3 innings and struck out three. The Cardinals have been outscored 51-15 in his last seven starts.
Reds 4, Pirates 0
At Cincinnati, Reds center fielder Ryan Freel was taken off the field on a stretcher after a frightening collision with a teammate and tests came back normal.
Kyle Lohse (2-6) struck out two in a six-hitter, snapping the team's six-game skid and his personal six-game losing streak.
Freel left the game in the third inning after running into right fielder Norris Hopper while catching a fly ball on the warning track. The game was delayed 13 minutes while he was examined before he was strapped onto a stretcher and taken to a hospital.
David Ross hit a two-run homer in the fifth and Edwin Encarnacion added two RBIs for Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh right-hander Ian Snell (4-4) allowed five hits and three runs in seven innings.
Braves 2, Brewers 1
Andruw Jones hit the 350th home run of his career and Chuck James tied a career high with eight strikeouts for visiting Atlanta.
Chris Capuano (5-4) held the Braves hitless through two outs in the fourth, when the 30-year-old Jones hit his eighth home run of the season.
James (5-4) held Milwaukee scoreless until Prince Fielder hit his National League-leading 16th home run of the season to lead off the sixth inning.
Marlins 5, Cubs 3
Byung-Hyun Kim pitched six scoreless innings, Reggie Abercrombie homered and visiting Florida held off a late Chicago rally.
Josh Willingham had two hits and an RBI and Miguel Cabrera had three hits for the Marlins. Kim (3-2) allowed three hits and struck out five while working around three walks.
Sean Marshall (0-2) lasted 6 1-3 innings, giving up three runs - two earned - and six hits. He struck out six and walked two.
Diamondbacks 5, Phillies 4
Doug Davis pitched eight sharp innings, Conor Jackson drove in four runs and visiting Arizona picked up its fifth straight win.
Ryan Howard's homer in the seventh was the only run off Davis for the Phillies, who wasted Freddy Garcia's longest outing of the season.
Davis (3-6) allowed seven hits, struck out five and didn't issue a walk.
Garcia (1-4) gave up three runs and seven hits, striking out a season-high nine in eight innings.