DENVER -- Manager Walt Weiss arranged his rotation so veteran Jeff Francis
would start Friday when the Colorado Rockies
opened their home season. It was an easy decision for Weiss and the right one.
The Rockies beat the San Diego Padres
5-2 in their fourth game of the season, and truth be told, Francis, 32, is a fourth or fifth starter at this point in his career.
But Francis, who relies on precise location, not pure stuff, pitched well in spring training -- he had a 2.76 ERA in 29 1/3 innings -- and showed the ability to control opponents' at-bats and dictate bat speed. He again did that in six innings against the Padres.
Before Francis took the mound before an announced crowd of 49,077 and held the Padres to one run and five hits in six innings, Weiss explained his decision to give this assignment to Francis, a decision that had as much to do about experience, composure and being center stage under bright spotlights as it did about mound repertoire.
"He's a great pro," Weiss said. "It's the right guy to be pitching in this atmosphere today. The connection he has with the fans and pitching in the World Series (for the Rockies in 2007), he's the obvious choice to be pitching here today."
Francis gave up a run in the first and then held the Padres scoreless on three hits through his final five innings. He threw 97 pitches and became the third Rockies starter to work at least six innings this season. Troy Tulowitzki
doubled home two runs in the third when the Rockies scored three unearned runs following shortstop Everth Cabrera
's error. Wilin Rosario and Dexter Fowler hit solo homers for the Rockies, who have hit 10 homers this season.
Francis retired nine straight batters before Jesus Guzman
doubled with one out in the sixth. Francis then struck out rookie Jedd Gyroko for the third straight time and Nick Hundley.
Adam Ottavino relieved Francis and retired the side in order in the seventh. Ottavino allowed an unearned run in the eighth, when Carlos Quentin doubled after an error by third baseman Reid Brignac.
The Rockies won their third straight game, their longest winning streak since they averted 100 losses last season -- they finished with a franchise-record 98 -- by winning four in a row from Sept. 23-27. Jason Marquis
, who pitched for the Rockies in 2009 and took the mound 10-7 with a 3.78 ERA at Coors Field, worked six innings for the Padres, allowing five runs, two earned.
Rafael Betancourt earned his second save, ending the game by throwing a called third strike past pinch hitter Yonder Alonso
with a runner on second base.
The Padres scored a run in the first on a one-out infield single by Cabrera, who stole second base and scored on Guzman's two-out single. Shortstop Cabrera's error in the third enabled the Rockies to tie the score at 1.
He charged Josh Rutledge's slow two-out grounder, picked up the ball and bobbled it, enabling Chris Nelson, who had opened the inning with a single, to score from third. The error led to two more unearned runs as Jason Marquis then walked Carlos Gonzalez, and Troy Tulowitzki doubled to the gap in left-center.
The Rockies, who hit eight homers in their first three games at Milwaukee, used the long ball to build a 5-1 lead. Rosario hit his second homer of the season in the fourth. And Fowler led off the fifth with a homer, his third of the season. He drove a 3-2 slider off the facade of the second deck.
NOTES: Padres third baseman Chase Headley is scheduled to undergo an X-ray Monday in San Diego to see how his broken left thumb is healing. He was expected to be sidelined four to six weeks after he broke the thumb while sliding March 17. ... First baseman Todd Helton, 39, received the loudest ovation of any Rockies player. Helton is in the final year of his contract and likely will retire after the season and has evidently been largely forgiven for being arrested in February for driving under the influence. ... Rockies pitchers Juan Nicasio and Edgmer Escalona, who are good friends but scuffled during stretching before Thursday's workout, rode together to Friday to Coors Field and said all was well between them. ... Pre-game ceremonies included the introduction of players and coaches from the Rockies inaugural 1993 team, including Andy Ashby, Freddie Benavides, Armando Reynoso, Jayhawk Owens, Willie Blair (currently the Padres bullpen coach), Eric Young, Mark Knudsen, Bruce Ruffin, Steve Reed, Jerald Clark, David Nied, Bryn Smith, Dante Bichette (the Rockies hitting coach, Vinny Castilla (a Rockies special assistant) and coaches Jerry Royster and Rick Matthews. ... Guzman, who pinch hit in each of the Padres' first three games, made his first start of the season. Manager Bud Black cited the right-handed hitting Guzman's history against Francis (2-for-6 with a triple and home run) and said he wanted to get Guzman a start as soon as possible. Black said regular first baseman Yonder Alonso, a left-handed hitter, will start the final two games of the series when right-handers are scheduled to start for the Rockies.
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