Colorado Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis has been pitching well enough to win without much run support. Of course, he hasn’t minded being backed by the NL’s most prolific offense over the past two months.
Francis looks to extend the franchise record and win his ninth straight decision when the Rockies face the wild-card leading San Diego Padres on Tuesday.
The Rockies (61-56) have scored an NL-best 320 runs since June 14, topping the 10-run mark in three of their last six games.
Troy Tulowitzki homered and also hit a go-ahead two-run double in Sunday’s 6-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Third-place Colorado is five games back of NL West-leading Arizona, while the second-place Padres (63-54) are three games out.
The Rockies have thrived with Francis (13-5, 4.06 ERA) on the mound, winning each of his last eight starts, including last Wednesday’s 19-4 pounding of Milwaukee.
“We gave him enough today,” Garrett Atkins said. “More importantly, we got him another W.”
Francis is 8-0 with a 4.39 ERA in 11 starts since June 14, with the Rockies averaging 9.18 runs of support - the best in the majors in that span - and winning 10 of those games.
The left-hander gave up three runs and six hits in five innings against the Brewers, and is 12-1 with a 3.45 ERA in 17 starts since May 12.
Francis, though, may need the overwhelming run support he’s been getting from his teammates if he wants to match his career-best victory total, set in 2005, on Tuesday. He’s been knocked around for 11 runs and 23 hits in 12 innings in two starts against the Padres this season, going 0-1 in those contests.
Francis has posted a 3.24 ERA in winning his last four road starts, but has lost his last three starts at Petco Park. He’s 2-4 with a 4.59 ERA in six career starts there.
The Rockies are 4-5 against the Padres (63-54) this season, and 1-2 at Petco.
Atkins went 2-for-13 (.154) in the four-game series against the Cubs, but is batting .412 (14-for-34) with four doubles and six RBIs in nine games against San Diego this year.
Matt Holliday is hitting .404 (19-for-47) with a homer, seven doubles and nine RBIs in his last 12 games, and batting .429 (15-for-35) with three home runs and eight RBIs against the Padres this season.
Atkins and Holliday have also had career success against Tuesday’s starter Greg Maddux (7-9, 4.15). Atkins is batting .471 (8-for-17) with two home runs and a double against him, while Holliday is 9-for-21 (.429) with two homers, two doubles and a triple against the four-time NL Cy Young Award winner.
Maddux is winless in his last eight starts, leaving him on 340 career victories since defeating San Francisco on June 27. The 41-year-old right-hander has been pitching well, though, posting a 3.07 ERA in his last five outings. San Diego’s bullpen gave up nine runs in blowing the lead in two of those games, and in the other three contests he received only two total runs of support.
Maddux gave up two runs and four hits in the first inning Wednesday against St. Louis, but faced only one batter over the minimum and allowed no more hits for the rest of his six-inning stint. He struck out five and walked none in the 2-1 loss.
Maddux is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA in three starts versus the Rockies this season, and 12-7 with a 4.20 ERA in 24 career starts against them.
San Diego defeated Cincinnati 10-4 on Sunday, taking two of three from the Reds as it salvaged a road trip that started with three losses in four games in St. Louis.
Shortstop Khalil Greene was 8-for-13 (.615) with a homer, three doubles and six RBIs in the Cincinnati series, and is batting .348 (8-for-23) with three home runs and a double lifetime against Francis.