Padres-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

The Colorado Rockies' rotation remains a work in progress, but at least the team is hitting the ball.

The San Diego Padres just broke out of their brief slump in a big way.

Left-hander Jeff Francis will try to help the Rockies post their first set of back-to-back victories in more than three weeks Friday night, when San Diego's Jason Marquis makes his first start in Denver since leaving Colorado three years ago.

While manager Jim Tracy's recent switch to a four-man rotation has not produced positive results - Rockies starters have a 10.23 ERA over the last six games - the team is batting .352 and averaging 6.3 runs during that stretch after pounding out 20 hits in an 11-10, 11-inning victory over Washington on Thursday.

"We made it a lot harder on ourselves than we needed to," Tracy said of the team blowing an early 7-0 lead.

The Rockies (29-46), who last won two straight June 3-4, continue their seven-game homestand with Francis (0-1, 7.23 ERA) facing the Padres for the first time this season.

These NL West rivals have split six games in 2012, with each losing two of three on the road.

Making his fifth start since signing as a free agent June 9, Francis has another chance to tie Ubaldo Jimenez for the third-most wins in Rockies history with 56. Part of the reason why no Colorado starter has won a game since June 4, however, is Tracy's new 75-pitch limit.

"(The four-man rotation is) different, for sure," Francis told the Rockies' official website after giving up two runs in five innings of Monday's 4-2 win over the Nationals. "It's not what we're used to. But we're asked to do a job."

Francis has lost his last three decisions against the Padres. He'll face a San Diego club that salvaged a four-game split at Houston with Thursday's 7-3 victory. Held to three total runs while losing their previous two contests, the Padres (28-49) scored six in the ninth to snap a streak of 119 straight losses when trailing after eight innings.

"The first (career) home run was a big emotion and I'll never forget it," utilityman Alexi Amarista said through an interpreter after hitting a go-ahead grand slam.

That type of run production would be welcomed by Marquis (1-3, 2.05), who has gotten a total of six runs of support over 26 1-3 innings in four starts since joining San Diego.

The right-hander last pitched in Colorado in 2009, when he posted a 3.92 ERA in 16 home starts in his lone season with the Rockies. Marquis is 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in four starts at Coors Field as a visitor.

He'll get his first look at Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who is batting .459 (34 for 74) with seven homers and 18 RBIs during a 17-game hitting streak in Denver.

Gonzalez is hitless in five at-bats in two home games versus San Diego this season, although he has walked three times. Teammate Tyler Colvin, who had a career-high four hits and five RBIs Thursday, is 5 for 12 against Padres pitching in 2012.

Padres third baseman Chase Headley, a native of Fountain, Colo., went 6 for 13 with two homers and three doubles in Denver from April 16-18.