Los Angeles (79-70) at Colorado (77-72)

Sunny Currently: Denver, CO, US
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 3:05 pm EDT Tue Sep 18, 2007
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The Los Angeles Dodgers are locked in a tight battle to reach the postseason. Pitchers such as Chad Billingsley may give them a chance to get there.

The Dodgers hope Billingsley can win his fifth consecutive game Tuesday when they take on the Colorado Rockies in the opener of a doubleheader at Coors Field.

The 23-year-old Billingsley (11-4, 3.14 ERA) is 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 33 innings over his last five starts, emerging as a steady performer for Los Angeles (79-70), which trails in close races for the NL West title and wild card.

Dodgers manager Grady Little called on Billingsley a day early Wednesday against wild card-leading San Diego after scheduled starter Derek Lowe was ruled out with an injury. The right-hander responded with another terrific effort, allowing one run and five hits in six innings of a 6-1 win over the Padres. He improved to 3-0 with a 0.45 ERA in three starts against San Diego this season.

“I can’t explain it,” Billingsley said. “Some teams, you’ve just got their number.”

The Rockies (77-72) have not been one of those teams. Billingsley is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in five career games - three starts - against them, and he’s been even worse at Coors Field, going 0-1 with a 12.86 ERA in two games - one start.

The right-hander looks to end that slump and help Los Angeles rebound from a 6-1 loss to NL West-leading Arizona on Sunday.

To do that, he’ll have to outpitch Rockies ace Jeff Francis (15-8, 4.35 ERA), who’s coming off one of his worst outings of the season.

The left-hander surrendered eight runs and eight hits with four walks in only 3 1-3 innings of a 12-4 defeat at Philadelphia on Thursday.

“I felt fine, but the ball wasn’t going where I wanted,” Francis said. “It’s disappointing for everybody.”

Francis is two wins shy of tying the team’s single-season record set by Kevin Ritz in 1996 and tied by Pedro Astacio three years later. He’s been unable to close on the mark of late, losing his last two starts.

Francis, though, is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 20 1-3 innings over three starts against Los Angeles this season. He’s 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in three career home starts against the Dodgers.

Colorado will look to its ace to help it build on Sunday’s 13-0 rout of Florida, as Todd Helton hit his 300th career home run.

“I’m very proud of it,” said Helton, who has played his entire 11-year career in Colorado. “It’s an honor to be able to go out and be on the field that long.”

No team has been more helpful in allowing Helton to reach the milestone than the Dodgers, who have given up 35 home runs to Helton - his highest total against any team. The first baseman, who’s hit 24 of those at Coors Field, is 4-for-9 in his career against Billingsley.

In Tuesday’s second game, Los Angeles hopes the resurgent David Wells (8-8, 5.27) can win a fourth consecutive decision for the first time since May 29-June 20, 2005, when he was with Boston.

The 44-year-old left-hander is 3-0 with a 3.91 ERA in his last four starts, much more than Los Angeles could have expected when he joined the team Aug. 24 after being released by San Diego.

Wells got a measure of revenge Thursday by beating the Padres for the first time since his departure, giving up three runs and four hits in six innings of a 6-3 victory.

“They gave up on me, I didn’t give up on myself,” Wells said. “I threw poorly. I can’t blame them. It’s nice to go out there against them and pitch solid. I know what I’m doing out there, it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.”

Wells will be making his first start at Colorado since Sept. 9, 1995, when he allowed six runs and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-2 defeat for Cincinnati.

The Rockies hope Mark Redman (1-4, 9.67) can build on a solid long relief outing Wednesday, when he scattered two hits in five innings of a 12-0 win over Philadelphia to earn his first victory of the season.

The left-hander has not started since May 1 with Atlanta. He went 0-4 with a 10.62 ERA in five starts this season before the Braves moved him to the bullpen and eventually waived him.

Redman allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings of his only start against the Dodgers, a 6-4 loss with Florida on Aug. 14, 2003.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Billingsley PHI vs. J. Francis TOR
12-5 Record 17-9
3.31 ERA 4.22
141 K 165
64 BB 63
1.33 WHIP 1.38