Cincinnati (57-73) at Colorado (60-71)

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  • Game info: 3:05 pm EDT Sun Aug 24, 2008
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Colorado Rockies sluggers Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe were conspicuously ineffective in back-to-back losses after thriving during the team’s five-game win streak. When the duo bounced back Saturday, so did the Rockies.

After leading the club to a comeback victory, Holliday and Hawpe look to help the Rockies to their seventh win in nine games Sunday when they close a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field.

Colorado (60-71) won five straight games from Aug. 15-20 thanks in large part to the hot hitting of its No. 3 and 4 hitters. Holliday hit .316 (6-for-19) with seven runs scored during the streak, while Hawpe went 9-for-20 (.450) with three homers and 10 RBIs.

Both players cooled off in back-to-back losses Thursday and Friday, combining to go 2-for-17 (.118) with five strikeouts.

Holliday popped up with the bases loaded in the fifth inning of Friday’s 8-5 loss to the Reds, and grounded out to strand three more runners in the second inning Saturday. He rebounded with a three-run double in the seventh inning, and Hawpe followed with an RBI single as the Rockies rallied for a 7-6 victory.

“I’m glad I got the chance to help the team again,” Holliday said. “You don’t get that many chances, and to have another chance with the bases loaded, I was excited about another opportunity. I was thankful for another shot at it.”

Holliday is second in the league with a .342 batting average, and is hitting .299 with runners in scoring position.

“When you’re hitting third on any team, you’re hitting third for a reason,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s more often than not put good swings on balls, driven in big runs.”

That’s bad news for the Reds (57-73), who are 7-20 since their last pair of back-to-back wins July 22 and 23 against San Diego. That stretch began when Cincinnati was swept in a three-game series against Colorado from July 25-27. The Rockies have outscored the Reds 35-17 in the clubs’ five meetings this year.

“It was only a matter of time before their bats come alive,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said after Saturday’s defeat.

Baker’s club will try to salvage a series win as it faces Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez (9-11, 3.99 ERA). The right-hander had gone 6-1 during a stretch of seven consecutive quality starts before posting an 8.18 ERA in back-to-back losses Aug. 7 and 12.

Jimenez bounced back Tuesday, holding the Los Angeles Dodgers to three runs while striking out seven in five innings of an 8-3 victory.

Jimenez pitched six innings to win his only previous start against Cincinnati 11-0 on July 27.

The Reds will counter with rookie right-hander Johnny Cueto (8-12, 4.74), who held the Chicago Cubs to one run and four hits in seven innings Tuesday, but suffered a 5-0 defeat.

“That’s as well as he’s thrown the ball since early in the year,” Baker told the Reds’ official Web site. “He’s getting better. He threw more quality strikes to get ahead.”

Cueto is making his first appearance against Colorado.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Cueto SF vs. U. Jiménez BAL
9-14 Record 12-12
4.81 ERA 3.99
158 K 172
68 BB 103
1.41 WHIP 1.43