Houston (74-67) at Colorado (67-75)

Sunny Currently: Denver, CO, US
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Sat Sep 6, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros both believe they are still contenders for a playoff spot. Each knows, however, that it cannot afford to lose this series.

The Rockies and Astros continue their three-game series on Saturday night, with Colorado having the better chance at making yet another improbable postseason run.

Colorado (67-75) won for the third time in four games on Friday, beating the Astros (74-67) 5-3 as Brad Hawpe sparked a three-run fourth with an RBI single and Clint Barmes homered in the fifth. The Rockies improved to 13-6 since Aug. 15 and moved within five games of NL West-leading Arizona, which lost 7-0 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.

“We’re right there,” said Barmes, who also homered in his team’s 9-2 loss to San Francisco Wednesday. “Nobody in here’s given up yet.”

Houston’s loss, meanwhile, snapped an eight-game winning streak, which included a three-game road sweep of the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs. Despite their strong play, the Astros are seven games behind wild card-leading Milwaukee with 21 games remaining.

Houston still remains positive, but realistic about its chances.

“We are at a point where we have to win every game,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. “We have to come to the park with that in mind.”

The Astros staff had a 1.85 ERA during their eight-game winning streak, including two shutouts of the Cubs, but Brian Moehler was tagged for five runs in 4 2-3 innings Friday.

“Sometimes when you’re playing well and you have a day off, makes it a little difficult to bounce back,” Cooper said. “We had a lot of momentum and all of a sudden you get a day off and you cool off a little bit.”

Houston ace Roy Oswalt (13-9, 3.91 ERA) takes the mound Saturday looking to build on an outstanding stretch.

Oswalt is 3-1 with a 1.15 ERA in his last four starts and he’s won seven of his last eight decisions. On Monday against the Cubs, he allowed four hits over 8 1-3 innings in a 3-0 win. It was the third time in his last four starts the right-hander pitched at least eight innings.

“I didn’t do anything different from the beginning of the year,” said Oswalt, who went 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his first three starts this season. “I’m just having better results.”

Oswalt is 5-1 with a 2.14 ERA in eight starts against the Rockies, going 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three outings at Coors Field.

Jeff Francis (4-8, 5.14), who has also pitched well recently, counters for Colorado.

Francis is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last three starts, all coming on the road. He pitched seven innings against San Diego on Sunday, allowing one run and six hits while striking out six in a 2-1 loss.

The left-hander is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in two career starts - both on the road - against the Astros.

Houston has lost six of its last seven games at Colorado.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Oswalt COL vs. J. Francis TOR
17-10 Record 4-10
3.54 ERA 5.01
165 K 94
47 BB 49
1.18 WHIP 1.48


Saturday, Sep 6