A five-game winning streak seemed to give the Colorado Rockies an outside shot of making another run toward the top of the NL West, but a rough road trip has them closer to the bottom.
That spot is held by the San Diego Padres, who also have struggled since recently winning five in a row.
The Rockies will try to snap a three-game skid in Friday’s night’s series opener at Petco Park, where the Padres look to avoid a season-worst eighth straight defeat.
Colorado (64-73) was talking about making a third late-season surge in five years to reach the playoffs after winning a fifth straight game Aug. 24 - 7-6 over Houston in 10 innings - to move within 8 1/2 games of West-leading Arizona.
However, it now appears unlikely Colorado will be able to recapture the magic of 2007 and ’09, when it made up big deficits in September to earn the NL wild card. The Rockies have lost five of six to open a nine-game trip, dropping 14 back of Arizona with Wednesday’s 4-2 loss in Phoenix.
“There were a heckuva lot of winnable games,” manager Jim Tracy told the Rockies’ official website. “An at-bat here and an at-bat there completely change the dynamics of our season.”
Tracy’s team is batting .245 (12 for 49) with runners in scoring position on the trip.
San Diego (60-77) is 5 for 44 (.114) with runners on second and third during a seven-game losing streak in which it has totaled 11 runs.
“We can’t seem to sustain any offensive momentum,” manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official website after Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. “We need to catch a little fire with the bats through the order.”
The possible return of center fielder Cameron Maybin(notes) this weekend could provide a spark. Maybin, who has missed the last five games with a sore right wrist, is batting a team-best .368 against Colorado in 2011.
Making his fourth start after signing a free agent deal Aug. 10, the veteran right-hander yielded two runs in 5 1-3 innings in Saturday’s 7-6, 11-inning loss to the Dodgers.
Millwood is 3-0 with a 3.89 ERA in seven starts in San Diego.
He’ll be opposed by Aaron Harang(notes) (12-4, 3.92), who has surrendered two runs or fewer in nine of 13 home starts. However, the right-hander is 0-1 with an 11.70 ERA in two starts versus Colorado this year.
Tulowitzki is hitless in his last 11 at-bats, but the All-Star shortstop is batting .380 with two homers and a team-high 13 RBIs against San Diego this season.
The Padres will try to win five straight at Petco for the first time since a six-game run Aug. 1-25, 2010.
Colorado, though, has won 10 of 13 in San Diego, including four of six this season.
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