Padres-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki is off to a slow start both at the plate and in the field.

Facing San Diego's Clayton Richard could at least help him get his bat going.

Tulowitzki, who has feasted on Richard's pitching in the past, tries to help the Rockies take their three-game series from the Padres on Wednesday night at Coors Field.

After dropping Monday's series opener 7-1, Colorado (5-6) bounced back to beat the Padres 5-3 on Tuesday. Dexter Fowler hit a two-run home run - his first hit since a first-inning homer in Friday's 7-6 win over Arizona - and Michael Cuddyer went 2 for 4 with an RBI double to continue his hot hitting.

Cuddyer is batting .372 with seven runs scored and a major league-leading seven doubles. He has doubled in five straight games against the Padres.

While Cuddyer doesn't seem to be having any trouble adjusting to the NL after spending the last 11 seasons with Minnesota, Tulowitzki is slumping.

He's 1 for 14 in his last four games to drop his season average to .244, and with two more errors Tuesday he bumped his season total up to six. The two-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop made six errors all of last year.

Tulowitzki might be able to break out of his offensive slump against Richard (1-0, 2.77 ERA), against whom he is 8 for 15 lifetime with three homers.

Also working to Tulowitzki's advantage, Richard ran into trouble in his last two starts at Coors Field, getting tagged for 14 runs over 8 2-3 innings. The left-hander permitted just one run and struck out eight over seven innings in his lone outing against the Rockies last season at Petco Park, but got charged with a 3-0 loss.

Richard gave up two unearned runs, two hits and no walks in seven innings of an 8-4 home win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 8, but didn't have as much luck at Chavez Ravine five days later. He yielded eight runs - four earned - six hits and four walks in six innings, though he didn't get a decision in the Padres' 9-8 defeat.

Like Richard, Rockies scheduled starter Juan Nicasio (0-0, 6.52) is looking to bounce back from a shaky outing after a solid debut.

After giving up one run, five hits and a walk in seven innings in Houston on April 8, Nicasio struggled against Arizona on Friday in his first start at Coors Field since Aug. 5, when he was hit in the head by a line drive and suffered a fractured skull and a broken neck.

The right-hander labored through a 44-pitch first inning that included three walks and a wild pitch and didn't make it out of the third. He ended up allowing six runs, five hits and five walks in 2 2-3 innings, though the Rockies eventually rallied to win.

"I wasn't nervous,'' said Nicasio, who was 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA in seven starts as a rookie at Coors last season. "I just couldn't locate my fastball.''

In two starts against the Padres last year, Nicasio went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 13 innings.

Nicasio might again be able to rack up several punchouts Wednesday, as San Diego (3-9) leads the majors with 100.

Leadoff hitter Cameron Maybin, batting .170 with a .259 on-base percentage, leads the Padres with 15 strikeouts. He is 2 for 7 with a double and two strikeouts lifetime against Nicasio.

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