After Friday’s game was postponed by rain, the Rockies will try to shake their struggles against the division leaders Saturday when the teams continue their series at Coors Field.
The Rockies (51-51) have dropped 18 of their last 24 games against the Dodgers (57-46), and eight of 10 against them in Denver. Los Angeles has taken four of the six meetings this season, including two of the last three at Coors.
“We have to beat them,” Colorado’s Matt Holliday said. “They are in first place and we have to beat them when we play them.”
The Dodgers won Thursday’s series opener 5-4 and hold a one-game lead over second-place Arizona in the West. However, Los Angeles has won just three of its last eight games, and the Rockies are within 5 1/2 games of the division lead.
“We miss him when he’s gone. We miss him terribly,” said manager Grady Little of Saito. “It affects us a lot. He looked good out there.”
Brad Hawpe drove in three runs for the Rockies, who lost for the fourth time in six games.
However, Colorado might have a chance to make up ground Saturday against Los Angeles starter Brett Tomko (2-7, 5.42 ERA), who is 1-5 with a 7.26 ERA in nine outings—seven starts—at Coors Field.
Tomko is 6-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 24 career appearances, including 18 starts, overall against the Rockies. He threw six scoreless innings without getting a decision in the Dodgers’ 2-1 home win on April 10 in his only start against them this season.
Tomko is making his third start in place of the injured Randy Wolf. The right-hander, who was demoted to the bullpen after a loss to Milwaukee on May 21, gave up one unearned run in six innings last Friday but was denied a decision in the Dodgers’ 4-1 loss to the New York Mets.
He was coming off a 5-3 win at San Francisco five days earlier.
“It feels good to go out there and pitch well. It’s definitely better than going out there and struggling out of the ‘pen,” said Tomko, who has added a cut fastball to his repertoire since returning to the rotation.
The Rockies must also like their chances with Jeff Francis (10-5, 4.22) taking the mound. Since the left-hander’s four-start losing streak April 16-May 2, Colorado has won 12 of his last 15 starts. In that span, Francis is 9-1 with a 3.49 ERA.
On Monday, he didn’t get a decision after allowing five runs in six innings in Colorado’s 7-5 win against San Diego. The Rockies rallied for five runs in the eighth inning to prevent Francis from suffering his first loss since June 8 at Baltimore.
“It’s awesome,” Francis told the team’s official Web site after Hawpe’s tiebreaking two-run home run in the eighth. “You can hardly explain it. You look at the energy that was out there.”
In six career starts against the Dodgers, Francis is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA.