The Colorado Rockies have shown the ability to break out offensively of late, especially at Coors Field.
The Rockies conclude their seven-game homestand on Sunday, trying to earn a split in their four-game series with the Chicago Cubs.
Colorado (60-56) is 20-6 at home since June 6, averaging 7.7 runs and batting .338. The Rockies have scored 10 or more runs in eight of those contests. They opened their current homestand with a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, during which they totaled 36 runs and 50 hits.
After recording just four runs and 12 hits in its first two games of this series, Colorado got back on track with a 15-2 rout on Saturday. Jamey Carroll hit a pinch-hit grand slam to break open a tie game in the sixth, and the Rockies scored 13 runs over the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
“All of a sudden, we just took off from there,” said Carroll, who finished with a career-high five RBIs. “You’re definitely satisfied with that.”
Carroll has just two homers in 2007, both against the Cubs, and helped Colorado set a single-season team record with its sixth grand slam. Brad Hawpe had a two-run homer and an RBI triple to improve to 7-for-18 versus the Cubs this season, and Troy Tulowitzki went 4-for-5 with three RBIs.
“It was a good game for about five innings, then it got away,” said Cubs manager Lou Piniella, whose team fell 1 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. “Colorado can swing the bats. Tonight, for the last third of the ballgame, they did.”
The Rockies snapped a six-game losing streak to the Cubs (60-56) and pulled within two games of San Diego in the NL wild-card race. Colorado has won its last nine series at home and can remain unbeaten in 10 in a row with a win Sunday.
Sean Marshall (5-6, 4.17 ERA) tries to stifle the Rockies and avoid losing his third straight start when he takes the ball for Chicago. After going 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA in four July starts, the left-hander has dropped two in a row while allowing 12 runs and 16 hits through eight innings.
He gave up five runs and seven hits, including a homer, over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-2 defeat to Houston on Tuesday.
“I just try to pitch and keep the game as close as I could,” Marshall told the Cubs’ official Web site. “It’s baseball, and you just want to bounce back for the next start.”
Marshall has struggled to get any run support recently, though, as the Cubs have scored two or fewer runs in all but one of his last eight outings. The 6-foot-7 southpaw will be making his first career start versus the Rockies.
The Cubs had lost four straight games while scoring just eight runs entering this series, but seemed to get back on track with back-to-back wins over Colorado, notching 16 runs and 28 hits. They took a step back Saturday, however, stranding 10 baserunners and giving up their most runs of the season.
Chicago’s bullpen allowed eight runs, six earned, and will soon have a different look. Piniella said right-hander Ryan Dempster, who leads the team with 17 saves, will be used in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to get him more work.
Colorado recalled Tim Harikkala from Triple-A Colorado Springs to start Sunday’s finale in place of Jason Hirsh, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right fibula. The right-handed Harikkala went 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA in four games, including one start, in Triple-A.
He is 7-8 with a 5.91 ERA in 72 appearances, including one start, but hasn’t played in the majors since 2005. Harikkala has made two relief appearances versus the Cubs, striking out three over four innings.