Nationals-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

A late rally helped the Colorado Rockies split their last series.

A much-needed doubleheader sweep lifted the Washington Nationals back to .500.

Both clubs are coming off encouraging performances after having recent offensive issues, and they may need to continue that trend Tuesday night at Coors Field with struggling starters Dan Haren and Jhoulys Chacin set to take the mound.

Down 7-4 on Sunday, the Rockies (34-30) plated three runs in the ninth and Dexter Fowler's two-out single in the 10th ended an 8-7 victory over San Diego that kept Colorado tied with San Francisco for second in the NL West.

It was the third time in five games the Rockies scored at least eight runs after a 16-game stretch in which they averaged four - a run lower than what they'd put up per game in their first 43.

"We were down in the series, 2-1, and to even it up before they get out of here, it was awesome," said Fowler, 9 for 16 with a triple and a double in the last three games.

Washington, batting .234, may have snapped out of its offensive funk with 12 runs and 24 hits in Sunday's day-night doubleheader sweep of Minnesota. The Nationals had scored 14 runs in their previous seven contests.

"I don't know if I've ever played a doubleheader where you pretty much had to win both," said shortstop Ian Desmond, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 with a run-scoring double in the nightcap.

The Nationals (31-31) hope they can ride Sunday's surge into Denver and give Haren (4-7, 5.45 ERA) some support after scoring eight total runs in his last five outings.

Washington hasn't won three straight in a month, but it should feel confident in its abilities at the plate considering its last three games at Coors Field. The Nationals scored 12, 11 and 10 runs in the final three of a four-game split there last June.

They might need another similar performance considering the way Haren's pitched lately. He's 0-3 with a 6.85 ERA in his last four outings after surrendering five runs in four innings of Wednesday's 10-1 loss to the New York Mets.

"I can't be this inconsistent,'' said Haren, who allowed three homers.

Haren's been tagged for a major league-worst 2.0 home runs per nine innings and has given up seven during in his last four starts.

Led by Carlos Gonzalez (17) and Troy Tulowitzki (16), the Rockies have 83 homers - the second-most in the NL.

That kind of power could benefit Chacin (3-3, 4.59), who is 0-2 with a 7.80 ERA in his last five home starts after giving up all the runs in 5 1-3 innings of Thursday's 6-5, 12-inning loss to San Diego.

The Rockies' opening day starter, 0-3 with a 6.43 ERA in seven starts since missing nearly three weeks with a lower back strain, last faced the Nationals in 2011.

Ryan Zimmerman is 4 for 7 with two homers against Chacin and hit .345 with three homers as the Nationals lost four of seven to Colorado last season. Desmond hit .433 and went deep four times.

Fowler, hitless in five at-bats against Haren, was 16 for 30 with two homers, a triple and four doubles off Washington pitching in 2012. Tyler Colvin went 11 for 24 with three homers and nine RBIs, and he could start in right field if Michael Cuddyer (strained rib cage muscle) misses a fourth consecutive game.

Tulowitzki did not face Washington last season due to a groin injury. He's a .400 career hitter in 21 home games against the Nationals.