Strong starting pitching has never been a trademark of the Colorado Rockies. That could change if the first four games this season are any indication.
Colorado looks to match its longest win streak from 2006 as it continues a three-game series Saturday night against the San Diego Padres.
The Rockies (3-1) have received three straight solid outings from their starting pitchers, a run that continued Friday when Jason Hirsh out pitched 333-game winner Greg Maddux.
Hirsh, acquired Dec. 12 from Houston in a five-player trade that sent Jason Jennings to the Astros, held the Padres (2-2) to one run in 6 2-3 innings and stuck out a career-high eight in a 4-3 victory.
“I didn’t beat Greg Maddux. Our lineup beat Greg Maddux,” Hirsh said. “I just went out there and kept the ballgame close in order for us to achieve that. Not everybody can say they faced Greg Maddux before in their career, and to beat him on top of that just adds to that.”
Kaz Matsui had three hits, two stolen bases, an RBI and a run for the Rockies, who have a pair of 4-3 wins sandwiched around an 11-4 victory over Arizona during the three-game streak.
Starters Jeff Francis, Rodrigo Lopez and Hirsh have combined for a 1.84 ERA in the past three games.
Colorado won a season-high four games five time last year. A victory in this game would give the Rockies their best five-game start since the 1998 team opened 4-1.
The Rockies opened their road schedule with a win over the Padres for the second straight season. Colorado embarrassed San Diego during a three-game sweep at Petco Park from April 7-9, outscoring them 32-12 and outhitting them 48-19.
“I remember all of it,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “Things started off hot. Didn’t end up hot.”
Josh Fogg will try to continue Colorado’s run of excellent starting pitching when he makes his season debut.
Fogg beat out Byung-Hyun Kim in spring training to win the fifth spot in the rotation. Fogg was second on the team last season with 11 wins but struggled in the second half of the season, when he was 4-4 with a 6.94 ERA. He received 6.4 runs of support in 2006, second-highest among NL pitchers.
Fogg made four starts against the Padres last season, going 1-0 with a 5.48 ERA.
The Padres have dropped two straight after opening the season with a pair of wins at San Francisco.
While San Diego’s starters have compiled a 4.98 ERA so far, the relievers have yet to allow a run in 13 1-3 innings.
Shortstop Khalil Greene had three hits Friday and is batting .412 (7-for-17) with two homers and four RBIs.
David Wells, who turns 44 on May 20, begins his 21st major league season and third with his hometown Padres. Wells battled a knee injury in 2006 and was limited to 13 starts with Boston and San Diego after making at least 30 each of the previous four years.
Despite his age, Wells proved durable as he pitched at least six innings in eight of his last 10 starts last season. He is 0-1 with a 7.16 ERA in three career starts against the Rockies but hasn’t faced them since Sept. 3, 2004.
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