San Diego (70-83) at Colorado (86-66)

Light Rain Currently: Denver, CO
Temp: 54° F
  • Game info: 8:40 pm EDT Thu Sep 24, 2009
  • TV: Ch4, FSRM
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Colorado Rockies gave up a game to their three closest pursuers in the NL wild-card race with a loss their last time out. They’re hoping Jason Hammel(notes) can keep them from conceding any more ground.

Hammel will try to continue his recent stellar work and pitch the Rockies another step closer to a playoff berth Thursday night when they play the decisive finale of a three-game set with the visiting San Diego Padres.

Colorado (86-66) looked to be in great shape to make its second trip to the postseason in three years after an 11-10 win over San Diego on Tuesday put it five games up in the wild-card chase.

Wednesday, however, worked much less toward the Rockies’ favor. Colorado lost 6-3 largely thanks to four RBIs from Will Venable(notes), while Atlanta, San Francisco and Florida - the only teams with a realistic chance to catch the Rockies - all won.

The Braves and Giants trail Colorado by four games with 10 to play, while the Marlins are 4 1/2 back with nine games left.

“If we win the rest of our series, nobody catches us,” manager Jim Tracy said.

The Rockies figure to have a good chance to win their fourth consecutive home series Thursday with Hammel (9-8, 4.35 ERA) on the mound. The right-hander hasn’t always gotten a lot of run support, but is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA over his last seven starts.

Hammel gave up three runs over seven innings Saturday at Arizona, striking out five, in a 10-4 victory.

“He’s been much better than a 9-8 pitcher for us,” Tracy said.

Colorado is 7-3 in Hammel’s past 10 starts, but he may have a few factors working against him this time. Hammel is 7-5 with a 3.19 ERA on the road, but he’s 2-3 with a 5.89 ERA at Coors Field.

In addition, he hasn’t fared well versus San Diego (70-83) this season. Hammel hasn’t received a decision in three starts against the Padres, posting a 7.30 ERA in 12 1-3 innings.

Catcher Nick Hundley(notes) is 3 for 4 with two doubles against Hammel, while Chase Headley(notes) is 2 for 4 with a triple.

Clayton Richard(notes) (4-2, 4.76) will take the ball for the Padres after an impressive outing despite not earning a decision. The left-hander gave up one unearned run over six innings Saturday at Pittsburgh in San Diego’s 2-1 victory.

“Those are the types of games as a pitcher that you like to pitch in,” Richard told the Padres’ official Web site. “Knowing that you can give your team a chance. … I got a cutter going pretty effectively and was really around the plate.”

Richard was 1-2 with a 10.69 ERA in four road starts with San Diego prior to his outing in Pittsburgh.

He faced the Rockies for the first time Sept. 13 at Petco Park, giving up three runs over five innings and striking out eight. Richard exited without a decision in a 7-3 win.

Richard didn’t have to face Brad Hawpe(notes) in that game, a relief considering what Hawpe has done against the Padres. The Rockies’ right fielder is hitting .465 with three homers and 10 RBIs versus San Diego this season.

Hawpe’s 0-for-3 night Wednesday was his first hitless game against the Padres. He’s batting .156 with 20 strikeouts in 45 at-bats in September, yet is still third on Colorado with 79 RBIs.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Richard Pit vs. J. Hammel ChC
9-5 Record 10-8
4.41 ERA 4.33
114 K 133
71 BB 42
1.47 WHIP 1.39

Scoreboard

Thursday, Sep 24