Arizona (57-85) at Colorado (78-64)

Rain And Snow Currently: Denver, CO, US
Temp: 31° F
  • Game info: 3:10 pm EDT Sun Sep 12, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After it looked like their playoff hopes were long gone in August, the surging Colorado Rockies are back in the thick of the NL West race.

Their remarkable run began three weeks ago in Arizona behind a stellar pitching performance by Jhoulys Chacin(notes).

Chacin looks to win his fourth consecutive decision and lead the Rockies to a 10th straight victory in Sunday’s series finale against the Diamondbacks.

Colorado (78-64) trailed first-place San Diego by 11 games on Aug. 21, and was just two games over .500. The Rockies have gone a major league-best 16-4 since to cut 8 1/2 games off the Padres’ lead.

The resurgence started Aug. 22, when Chacin (8-9, 3.65 ERA) gave up three hits while striking out nine in 7 2-3 innings of a 1-0 victory over the Diamondbacks (57-85). The 22-year-old rookie right-hander has gone 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in three starts since.

“This year, I have the confidence I had a couple years before in the minor leagues,” Chacin told the Rockies’ official website after allowing two runs in six innings of Tuesday’s 4-3 win over Cincinnati.

Chacin has been excellent against the Diamondbacks, going 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA while striking out 23 over 19 1-3 innings in three starts this season.

Chacin, who has shuffled back and forth between the big leagues and the minors, is just one example of the depth of the Rockies’ roster.

In Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Arizona, pinch-hitter Jonathan Herrera’s(notes) sacrifice fly broke a seventh-inning tie to lead Colorado to its ninth straight victory.

“We play like a team,” Herrera said. “Everybody is part of it, not just the nine guys in the lineup. We have a lot of guys on the bench, too, and we’re looking for anything to help the team win.”

The Rockies, winners of 18 of their last 22 home games, knew heading into Saturday’s game they were unable to make up any ground on the West lead with San Diego and San Francisco tied atop the division and squaring off at Petco Park. The Padres defeated the Giants 1-0 on Saturday to remain 2 1/2 games up on Colorado.

If San Francisco can win Sunday in San Diego and the Rockies defeat the Diamondbacks, Colorado would pull within 1 1/2 games of the division leaders. The Rockies, who begin a three-game series against the Padres on Monday at Coors Field, haven’t faced a deficit of fewer than two games since July 10, when they trailed San Diego by one game.

Colorado could have Carlos Gonzalez(notes) back in the lineup for the finale. The MVP candidate didn’t start Saturday following consecutive 0-for-4 performances. Manager Jim Tracy said Gonzalez “bruised his (right) hand up a little bit” taking an awkward swing Thursday, but he held him out mostly just to give him a break.

Gonzalez, batting .335 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs, is 1 for 3 with a homer off probable Arizona starter Ian Kennedy(notes) (9-9, 4.01).

Like Chacin, Kennedy has been pitching well lately, going 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 34 innings over his last five starts. In Monday’s 2-0, 11-inning loss to San Francisco, the right-hander allowed two hits and two walks in eight scoreless innings.

“I feel good right now,” said Kennedy, who is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in three career starts versus Colorado.

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Starting Pitchers

I. Kennedy KC vs. J. Chacin SD
9-10 Record 9-11
3.80 ERA 3.28
168 K 138
70 BB 61
1.20 WHIP 1.27