Rockies 6, Dodgers 2

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DENVER (AP)—Matt Holliday wasn’t impressed.

Not with his two-run homer in the first and especially not with his running catch in the gap to take away a sure double in the fifth.

“I sort of expect a lot of myself,” Holliday said after the Rockies’ 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night. “I don’t really impress myself.”

Holliday may be known for his bat, but he’s proving he can play some defense, too. Manager Clint Hurdle raved about Holliday’s ability to get a good jump and sprint a long way to catch Mike Lieberthal’s deep fly.

“Fine running catch,” Hurdle said. “It was a good-looking play.”

Yet the night belonged to Jeff Francis, who scattered seven hits over 7 2-3 innings. Francis (11-5) has now won six straight decisions, and hasn’t lost since June 8 at Baltimore.

The lanky lefty improved to 39-8 when the Rockies give him at least three runs of support.

Francis gave up two runs, struck out five and allowed no walks. He was taken out in the eighth when Jorge Julio came in to face Jeff Kent with a runner on second. Julio got Kent to ground out.

As Francis walked off the field, the crowd of 46,039 gave him a rousing ovation.

“It’s really flattering,” Francis said.

It was a different Francis on the mound Saturday night. He’d given up five or more runs in four of his six previous starts.

But Hurdle thought he looked like the Francis of old against the Dodgers.

“His command was so much sharper than we’ve seen in this little stretch,” Hurdle said.

Manager Grady Little would agree with that.

“He was tough,” said Little, whose team leads the Arizona Diamondbacks by percentage points in the NL West. “That was the best I’ve seen him pitch in a couple of years.”

Matt Kemp simply said of Francis, “He got us.”

The defining moment was Francis’ ability to work out of a jam in the seventh when Kent led off with a single and Nomar Garciaparra followed with a double. Francis struck out Kemp before giving up an RBI single to Andre Ethier.

However, Francis got Lieberthal and pinch hitter Russell Martin to each pop out to end the inning.

“It’s best for me to stay within myself,” Francis said of getting out of the situation. “I try not to throw the nastiest pitch. I don’t have those pitches.”

Garrett Atkins was a double away from his first cycle since his days at UCLA. Asked if he would’ve wanted another at-bat for a shot at a double, he just smiled.

“Not really,” said Atkins, who hit a solo homer in the seventh, his 15th of the season. “I’d rather have us win in 8 1/2 innings and go home.”

Troy Tulowitzki added a two-run homer in the second off Brett Tomko. It was his 12th of the season.

“He left it in the middle of the plate a little bit,” Tulowitzki said.

Tomko (2-8) allowed five runs—all through the first two innings—before settling down. He lasted six innings and gave up seven hits.

“I had a hard time getting a rhythm,” he said. “For some reason, it all started clicking in the third. All of a sudden it felt normal.”

By then, though, it was too late, especially the way Francis was pitching.

“I was throwing a lot more strikes,” Francis said of his performance.

Kent extended his streak of reaching base safely to 37 straight games with a two-out RBI single in the fourth. Kent, who finished 2-for-4, has been on base with a walk, hit or hit by pitch in every game he’s played since June 8. The streak is the longest in the majors this season.

Atkins was impressed with Francis.

“He was great—again,” Atkins said. “You need guys in the rotation to be successful and he stepped up for us.”

Notes

RHP Derek Lowe (left hip irritation) and RHP Brad Penny (abdominal cramp) will throw bullpen sessions Sunday. … The makeup date for Friday night’s rainout has yet to be determined. It will be made up when the Dodgers return to Coors Field on Sept. 18-20. … Holliday has now homered in three of his last five games. … RHP Rodrigo Lopez said the tightness in his forearm is feeling better. … With a run-scoring single in the second, OF Ryan Spilborghs now has six RBIs in his last four games.

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