The Arizona Diamondbacks hope a trip to Coors Field is just what they need to get back on track after a losing homestand.
The Diamondbacks go for their sixth straight win in Colorado when they open a four-game series with the Rockies on Monday as both teams look to boost their postseason chances.
Arizona (59-58) went 4-5 on its just-completed homestand, losing two of its final three to Florida including a 6-5 defeat on Sunday. Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew, who was back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s game with a sore right hand, homered and is batting .450 (18-for-40) with 10 RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak.
Luis Gonzalez also had a home run for the Diamondbacks, who are beginning a crucial 10-game road trip against NL West opponents Colorado (57-60), San Diego and San Francisco.
Arizona holds the third spot in the division, 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers. Colorado trails Los Angeles by 4 1/2 games. The Diamondbacks trail NL wild card-leading Cincinnati by 1 1/2 games while the Rockies are 3 1/2 games back.
Arizona has gone 25-18 against divisional opponents this season while Colorado is just 22-28. The Diamondbacks lead the season series 8-4 and have won five in a row at Coors Field.
Claudio Vargas (9-8, 5.30 ERA) looks to continue that success and extend his own winning streak against the Rockies to five games. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 5.29 ERA in six career appearances versus Colorado, including five starts.
Vargas held the Rockies to two runs and six hits over six innings of a 6-2 victory on July 21. He allowed a two-run homer in the first inning of his last outing on Aug. 6, but recovered to shut Houston out over the next five frames en route to a 4-3 victory.
“After the first inning, I just told myself that it was over. It was two runs, and now I have to pitch my game,” said Vargas, who tossed 29 pitches in the inning.
Vargas has struggled on the road recently, losing his last three starts away from Chase Field while posting an 7.71 ERA and allowing opponents to hit .317.
He will be opposed by Jeff Francis (9-9, 3.44), who is looking for his sixth straight quality start. The left-hander is 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA in his last five outings, allowing only nine runs—six earned—in 38 1-3 innings.
He has pitched at least seven innings in each of those outings, including Wednesday when he limited the Dodgers to one run and six hits over 7 1-3 innings, but didn’t factor in the decision in a 3-1 victory.
He has struggled in two starts against Arizona this season, however, going 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in 10 innings. Francis had won five straight decisions versus the Diamondbacks before this season and is 5-1 with a 4.35 ERA in nine career starts against them.
Francis will try to lead Colorado to its fourth consecutive series win at home. The Rockies have won seven of their last 10 games at Coors, but lost the finale of their three-game set with the Chicago Cubs, 8-7 on Sunday. Colorado’s bullpen allowed four runs over the seventh and eighth innings.
“It’s a tough game to swallow,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
Colorado third baseman Garrett Atkins, who had a grand slam in Sunday’s loss, is 5-for-10 with three doubles and two homers against Vargas. He is also batting .349 (15-for-43) with eight RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak against the Diamondbacks.