PHOENIX (AP) -Jeff Francis shook off a first-inning run to outpitch Brandon Webb, and the Colorado Rockies took a 4-1 lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks after six innings in the NL championship series opener on Thursday night.
Brad Hawpe's two-run single capped a three-run third inning against Webb, who went 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA against the Rockies this season.
The first-ever NLCS between NL West rivals pitted the Rockies against a Diamondbacks team coming off its first postseason sweep, a three-game wipeout of the Chicago Cubs.
Colorado had won 17 of its previous 18 games. The lone loss was Sept. 28, when Webb beat Francis at Coors Field.
This time, the Rockies had a patient approach that forced Webb to throw his sinker for strikes, and he struggled with his command. Webb was lifted after throwing 98 pitches - 61 for strikes - in six innings. He allowed four runs and seven hits, walked two and struck out four.
The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner had not given up as many as four runs in the first three innings since Sept. 2 - when the Rockies beat him 4-3.
While Webb struggled, Francis cruised after a shaky first inning. Stephen Drew, who was 7-for-14 in the first round, singled with one out and Eric Byrnes hit Francis' first pitch down the left-field line for a double that scored Drew without a throw.
Francis retired nine of the next 10 batters, and he didn't allow another hit until Webb singled with two out in the fifth. Francis then walked Chris Young before striking out Drew on a 3-2 pitch.
Byrnes led off the sixth with a single but was quickly erased on Conor Jackson's 6-4-3 double-play grounder.
With about 1,000 empty seats at Chase Field, the roof was open on a 93-degree evening in the desert.
Webb pitched into a no-outs, bases-loaded jam in the second, giving up singles to Todd Helton and Garrett Atkins and walking Hawpe. That brought up Troy Tulowitzki, who entered 11-for-23 with the bases loaded this year.
Webb desperately needed a ground ball, and he got it. Tulowitzki bounced into a 6-4-3 double play, tying the game at 1-1 but averting a potentially big inning. Webb struck out Yorvit Torrealba to strand Atkins at third.
Colorado reached Webb again in the third. With one out, Willy Taveras singled and stole second on a pitch in the dirt. It was Taveras' first game after a 21-game absence caused by leg injuries.
Taveras scored on Kaz Matsui's bloop single to give Colorado a 2-1 lead. Matt Holliday then hit a ball that rolled down foul down the third-base line, kicked back fair and bounced off the bag for an infield single.
After Helton flied out, Webb loaded by the bases with a walk to Atkins, and Hawpe lined a single to right for a 4-1 lead.

Recent MLB Discussions

MLB Trends Sunday, May 1 on Sun, May 2016 by Blade
MLB Trends Saturday, April 30 on Sat, Apr 2016 by Blade
May Pitchers Report on Sat, Apr 2016 by Blade

MLB Headlines

More inMLB News  

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Yankees vs. Red Sox MLB Pick With their ace on the mound, will the Red Sox beat their most hated rivals tonight on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball when the two teams clash at...
Thumbnail Astros vs. A's MLB Pick Will the A’s earn a sweep over the Astros today when the American League West rivals clash at 4:05PM ET?
Thumbnail Padres vs. Dodgers Prediction   With the total sitting at 6.5 runs, will the under cash for bettors when the Dodgers host the Padres at 4:10PM ET?
Thumbnail Royals vs. Mariners MLB Pick Will the Mariners sweep the Royals today when the two teams square off at 4:10PM ET? Read on for our pick of today’s matchup.
Thumbnail Angels vs. Rangers MLB Pick American League West rivals clash today at 3:05PM ET when the Rangers host the Angels. Will L.A. pull off the upset on the road?
More inMLB Articles  

MLB Team Pages