Rockies-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

A visit from the Colorado Rockies appears to have been exactly what the Philadelphia Phillies needed to get back on track for the moment.

After rallying for a second straight victory, the Phillies look to complete a sweep of the crumbling Rockies on Thursday night.

Philadelphia (33-37) had lost three in a row and 12 of 15 before winning the first two against Colorado. Dexter Fowler delivered a tiebreaking single in the top of the ninth inning Wednesday, but the Phillies rallied with two runs in the bottom, winning 7-6 when Hunter Pence scored as Todd Helton missed tagging first base on Placido Polanco's two-out grounder.

"When you're not doing the big things, the little things work to your advantage," Philadelphia center fielder Shane Victorino said. "Hopefully it'll kick start something."

The Phillies have won five in a row and 24 of 29 against Colorado, including three of four in a 2009 NL division series and 13 of 16 at Citizens Bank Park.

The Rockies (25-42) have lost four straight and 12 of 13 overall, and things might not get any easier. Colorado announced Wednesday that Troy Tulowitzki will have surgery on his left groin area Thursday, a major setback for the star shortstop, who has not played since May 30.

He had been getting into a groove before the injury, batting .389 with four homers and 11 RBIs in his last nine games, but now the Rockies enter an uncertain timetable without Tulowitzki.

"There's some scar tissue that is built up over a nerve," manager Jim Tracy told the Rockies' official website. "We're very hopeful they're going to successfully relieve that and get us beyond these problems and situations we've been dealing with over the course of the last year or so."

Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has done his best to fill the void left by Tulowitzki, batting .444 (16 for 36) in his last eight games. Including the postseason, Gonzalez is a lifetime .455 hitter in 18 games against the Phillies.

Gonzalez and the Rockies, however, could face a major test against scheduled Philadelphia starter Vance Worley (3-3, 2.80 ERA). The right-hander has allowed six runs, but only one earned, over 13 innings in his last two starts.

Worley is looking for his first win since May 11. The Phillies have lost each of his three starts since he spent three weeks on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

Colorado counters with Jeff Francis (0-1, 12.46), hoping the veteran can stabilize the team's unconventional rotation. With Tracy opting to go with four starters and a 75-pitch limit for each, Rockies relievers have been forced to pitch 8 2-3 innings in the first two games of this series.

The team has a 7.19 ERA in its last 13 games.

"They're taking steps to improve the team," Francis said. "We're not doing our job well enough. We've got to pitch better and they're trying to help us."

Signed by the Rockies earlier this month, Francis began his second stint with Colorado by giving up eight runs in 3 1-3 innings of an 11-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on June 9. He was better Friday when he yielded four runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 12-4, 10-inning victory at Detroit.

"It's a step in the right direction for me," Francis said.

Including a road win in the 2007 playoffs, the left-hander is 2-1 with a 6.12 ERA in six career starts versus Philadelphia.

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is batting .400 (14 for 35) in his last eight games and .429 (6 for 14) versus Francis.

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