Lopez looks to build on an impressive 2007 debut when the Rockies take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the middle game of a three-game series on Tuesday.
Lopez (1-0, 1.29 ERA) gave up one earned run and six hits in seven innings to earn the win in Colorado’s 11-4 victory over Arizona last Wednesday. The right-hander also won his first start with Baltimore in 2006, but dropped his next seven decisions en route to a 9-18 finish, a 5.90 ERA and an offseason trade to Colorado.
“I know I’m capable of doing this,” Lopez said after his Rockies debut. “Being on a different field, in a different uniform, your mind is fresh. You forget about what you’ve done in the past. You want to be here.”
Lopez will look to continue a string of strong starts for Colorado. Through seven games, Rockies starters are 3-0 with a 2.64 ERA, a big improvement over last year’s 4.72 rotation ERA - itself a franchise record.
“They’ve done a fantastic job - I don’t think you could have asked for anything more,” said third baseman Garrett Atkins. “They keep it up, I think we’ll be right there.”
The Rockies (4-3) won the series opener 6-3 on Monday at Dodger Stadium, bouncing back from consecutive one-run losses at San Diego. Atkins hit a solo home run in the first inning and drove in two more runs with sacrifice flies in the fifth and ninth.
Trailing by four runs in the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers (4-3) loaded the bases with no outs against Rockies closer Brian Fuentes. The rally fizzled, though, and Los Angeles managed just one run on Juan Pierre’s sacrifice fly.
The Dodgers sustained a pair of injuries in the loss. Right fielder Matt Kemp slammed into the auxiliary scoreboard while trying to track down a Rockies hit in the fourth inning. He left the game with a sore right shoulder, but X-rays were negative and Kemp doesn’t think he’ll miss more than a few days.
“At first I thought it was worse than what it was,” said Kemp, who is batting .429 (6-for-14) in five games this season. “It hurt really bad when I was walking off the field. I thought I was done. But everything will be all right.”
Starting pitcher Jason Schmidt, who signed a $47 million, three-year contract in the offseason, tweaked his hamstring while covering first base in the fifth inning. A team spokesman said Schmidt is day-to-day.
The Dodgers managed seven hits Monday to go with their three runs, a far cry from their 10-run, 15-hit performance in Sunday’s win at San Francisco. They will look to bounce back against Lopez, who is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two appearances against them.
Los Angeles first baseman Nomar Garciaparra has a career batting average of .370 (10-for-27) with seven extra-base hits against the right-hander.
Lopez will match up against the Dodgers’ Brett Tomko, making his first appearance of the season and his first start since June 23, 2006. The right-hander went 6-6 with a 5.12 ERA in 15 starts last year.
After a stint on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, he returned in late July and spent the rest of the season in the bullpen, going 2-1 with a 3.64 ERA in 29 2/3 innings.
The Dodgers won eight of 10 home games against Colorado in 2006, on their way to a 15-4 overall advantage in the season series.