Success at the plate has helped lead the Colorado Rockies to a strong run at a crucial time. A matchup with Brady Penny, however, may make it tough for them to continue their hot hitting.
The Rockies, winners of three straight, look to beat Penny for the first time in two years as they continue a four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
The current winning streak has brought Colorado within 4 1/2 games of San Diego for the NL wild card. The Rockies (79-72) swept a doubleheader with the Dodgers (79-72) on Tuesday to move into a tie with Los Angeles with 11 games remaining.
Todd Helton’s two-run homer off Takashi Saito with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Rockies a 9-8 win in the nightcap. Saito had converted 39 of 42 save opportunities prior to the homer.
“That was a tough one for us,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “I think our playoff chances (were hurt) today in Coors Field.”
Colorado has scored 25 runs over the last three games, and now has a chance to win four straight for the first time since a five-game winning streak from July 2-7.
Penny (16-4, 2.88 ERA), however, has been outstanding against the Rockies in his career, going 12-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 19 starts, including a 7-0 record and a 2.47 ERA in his last nine outings against them. This season, the right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in three starts against Colorado.
On Friday night, Penny matched a career high with his 16th win, giving up four runs - three earned - and six hits while striking out six in five innings of a 7-4 win over Arizona.
Los Angeles has lost three straight following a four-game winning streak, and it may not have leadoff man Rafael Furcal in the lineup Wednesday. Furcal left the first game of the doubleheader after the sixth inning when his lower back tightened up, and missed the nightcap.
The Rockies, meanwhile, continue to get strong performances from their top hitters. Helton is batting .423 with a .538 on-base percentage, two homers and 10 RBIs in his last 15 games.
“I’ve watched Todd play a long time,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him. He’s found another gear this month.”
Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday drove in four runs in the doubleheader, bringing his career-high RBI total to 126. He has also homered in seven of his last nine games.
Helton and Holliday helped bail out Colorado after the Rockies allowed 13 hits to what had been a struggling Los Angeles lineup. The Rockies will now give the ball to Josh Fogg (9-9, 4.98).
The right-hander gave up four runs and five hits in five innings of a 7-6 loss to Florida on Friday night. He had been 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his previous three starts.
Fogg is 2-5 with a 4.89 ERA in eight career starts and two relief appearances against the Dodgers. He struggled against Los Angeles on Aug. 17, surrendering six runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-4 Colorado defeat.