With a seven-game winning streak and a game in the NL wild card standings on the line, the Rockies may be without their star as Francis takes the mound against the Padres in the teams’ final meeting of the regular season.
Holliday was held out of Saturday night’s game against San Diego because of a slightly strained left oblique, but surging Colorado closed within 2 1/2 games of the wild card-leading Padres with a 6-2 victory.
“This has been about as good as it’s been for us since most of us have been here with the Rockies,” said Colorado right fielder Brad Hawpe, who drove in two and is 10-for-18 with nine RBIs in his last four games. “It’s been our best chance so far. It’s been our best team.
“We’ve done well but we have a lot of work left.”
Ryan Spilborghs started for Holliday in left field and went 0-for-4. Colorado (83-72) can’t afford to lose Holliday, who will be re-evaluated Sunday, for any extended period of time.
A leading NL MVP candidate, Holliday tops the league in RBIs (131), hits (205), extra-base hits (89), doubles (48), and total bases (371). He is second in the NL with a .337 batting average—four points behind Atlanta’s Chipper Jones—and has hit a career-high 36 home runs.
But Holliday has not scored or driven in a run during Francis’ (16-8, 4.25 ERA) losses to San Diego this year. Francis has an 8.10 ERA in four starts against the Padres this season, and is 4-10 with a 6.17 ERA in 15 career starts against them.
The left-hander has lost four straight decisions to San Diego (85-69).
Francis, however, has done his part to keep Colorado in the playoff hunt, giving up three earned runs or less in six of his last seven starts. He struck out a career-high 10 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, allowing one run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-1 win.
Francis will be facing a Padres team that has scored a total of three runs in this series’ first two games and has seen its lead over Philadelphia in the wild-card race cut to one-half game.
Greg Maddux (13-10, 3.95 ERA) will get the ball for the Padres on Sunday and hasn’t needed much run support in his last two starts against Colorado, posting a 0.77 ERA en route to winning both games. The right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.30 ERA in five starts against the Rockies this season, and 14-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 26 career starts against them.
Maddux, though, has struggled in his last two outings overall, going 1-1 with a 9.72 ERA and a .436 opponent batting average.
In his last start, Maddux gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings to beat Pittsburgh 5-3 on Tuesday night. He tweaked his back in that game, but has not reported any problems since.
“I think Greg is fine,” San Diego manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official Web site. “We’ll watch him … but as of right now he’s awesome.”
The Rockies are 9-8 against the Padres this year.