Rockies-Diamondbacks Preview

The Associated Press

Jason Kubel backed Ian Kennedy with a powerful offensive display last week, and he hasn't cooled off since.

Kennedy will be on the mound Monday night when the Arizona Diamondbacks seek a season high-tying fourth straight victory in the opener of a three-game set with the visiting Colorado Rockies.

Kubel went 3 for 4 with a second-inning homer to help Arizona (47-48) complete a three-game sweep of Houston with an 8-2 victory Sunday. He homered three times and drove in six runs in Saturday's 12-3 win and is hitting .409 with six homers and 11 RBIs over his last five games, of which the Diamondbacks have won four.

"Kubel had a huge series and we all kind of fed off of that,'' said Chris Young, who hit a three-run homer Sunday.

The sweep got Arizona off to a solid start on its 10-game homestand.

''We want to continue to roll on this,'' manager Kirk Gibson said. ''We know when we come off this homestand it's very important that we get over .500. We head on the road for virtually all of August.''

Kubel's current hot stretch began Wednesday when he homered twice to help Kennedy and the Diamondbacks beat Cincinnati 7-1. He also went 3 for 5 with a two-run homer and had five RBIs when Arizona beat Colorado 10-0 in the most recent meeting June 5 - which Kennedy also won.

Kennedy (7-8, 4.33 ERA) had gone 1-3 with a 5.84 ERA over his previous six starts before giving up one run in eight innings of Wednesday's win. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA in his last six starts versus the Rockies after allowing five hits in six innings of last month's outing.

This time he'll be opposed by Sanchez (0-0, 0.00), who went 1-6 with a 7.76 ERA in 12 starts with Kansas City before being acquired for Jeremy Guthrie on Friday.

Sanchez's lone win came in his first outing of the season April 8, and he posted a 12.18 ERA over his last four starts. He was traded from San Francisco to Kansas City prior to this season for Melky Cabrera, who has blossomed into one of baseball's best hitters and was named the All-Star Game MVP earlier this month.

"It surprised me coming to the West Coast again," Sanchez told Colorado's official website. "I feel good coming here. I know the hitters (in the NL). I hope things go better."

Sanchez now will be part of a four-man rotation that features all left-handers working on a roughly 75-pitch limit. He's walked 44 in 53 1-3 innings while striking out only 36.

"If there is a next step that he can ascend to take him to a different level, it's throwing more strikes than he has," manager Jim Tracy said. "It'll be interesting to see in relation to the format how he gravitates to that."

Sanchez has been solid in his last nine starts against Arizona, going 6-1 with a 2.75 ERA.

Colorado (36-58), though, has lost six of eight after falling 3-2 to San Diego on Sunday. Carlos Gonzalez went 0 for 2 with a pair of walks, snapping his eight-game hitting streak.

''They shut us down offensively today. That's what it boils down to,'' Tracy said.

These teams have split the first eight meetings this season, but the Diamondbacks have won 16 of 21 home matchups with the Rockies.

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