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Jimenez remains tough to beat

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DENVER (AP)

Even without overpowering stuff, Ubaldo Jimenez is tough to beat.

Jimenez threw eight shutout innings, Seth Smith homered twice and the Colorado Rockies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-3 on Wednesday night.

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Jimenez (9-1) continued his dominant start to the season, extending his current scoreless streak to 16 1/3 innings and dropping his ERA to 0.88, the best in baseball. His nine wins lead the major leagues.

"It's not easy to have an ERA like that young man has this late into the season,'' Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "I've heard the term microscopic used and I think it applies.''

Carlos Gonzalez homered and Miguel Olivo had three hits for the Rockies, who have won a season-high four straight.

Mark Reynolds hit his 12th home run and Gerardo Parra had two hits for the Diamondbacks, who have lost three in a row.

Jimenez looked vulnerable early. The Diamondbacks were hitting Colorado's ace, they just couldn't cash in on their opportunities. Their best chance came right away.

Kelly Johnson led off the game with a double. With two outs, center fielder Carlos Gonzalez had to make a running catch at the wall to retire Stephen Drew.

"I thought I had it. At least a double, but Gonzalez made the play,'' Drew said. "You never know what happens after that. He ran the perfect route.''

Tracy agreed.

"A tremendous catch to end the first inning on the ball that Drew hit,'' he said.

Arizona had runners on in the second and third innings but Jimenez kept the Diamondbacks off the board.

"At the beginning of the game they were hacking every first-pitch fastball and they were hitting it good,'' Jimenez said. "After the third inning I got better. I was using a couple of breaking balls because they were looking for the fastball.''

Once he made the adjustment, the opportunites dried up for Arizona. The only other batter to reach second was Drew, who doubled with two outs in the sixth but was stranded.

"He is becoming a little more of a pitcher,'' Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said. "He mixed in his off-speed pitches a little more now than when he was younger.''

While he was finding his groove, his teammates were giving him runs to work with. Smith homered with one out in the first to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead.

Gonzalez led off the third with a walk and stole second. After Lopez retired the next two batters, Troy Tulowitzki walked and Brad Hawpe followed with a triple to right-centerfield to make it 3-0.

"A 3-0 lead with the way this guy's pithing right now can appear to be insurmountable to the other side,'' Tracy said.

The Rockies added another run in the sixth when Tulowitzki led off with a double and scored on Olivo's single to right in Rodrigo Lopez's last inning.

Lopez (2-3) gave up four runs and five hits, struck out three and walked four.

"Once he got the lead he could pitch pretty aggressively and go after us,'' Hinch said of Jimenez. "I felt we put some at-bats against him, but when runners were on the line and money was on the table he beat us.''

Gonzalez and Smith greeted reliever Juan Gutierrez with back-to-back homers to lead off the seventh and made it 6-0. It was the second time this year the duo has hit consecutive homers.

Ian Stewart's RBI single with two outs scored Tulowitzki from second to make it 7-0.

Staked to the big lead, Tracy pulled Jimenez because the right-hander will face two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants on Monday afternoon, a matchup Jimenez is looking forward to.

"Yeah, why not?'' he said. "I always want to be there for a big game.''

The Diamondbacks broke through when Reynolds hit a three-run homer off Rafael Betancourt in the ninth.

NOTES: Jimenez became the fourth Colorado pitcher with 500 career strikeouts. ... Tulowitzki extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Gonzalez and Smith went back-to-back against Washington on May 15. ... Arizona C Miguel Montero (right knee sprain) ran the bases and did some defensive drills. He has been on the 15-day DL since April 11.

Tagged: Giants, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Rodrigo Lopez, Miguel Olivo, Stephen Drew, Troy Tulowitzki, Ubaldo Jimenez, Tim Lincecum, Carlos Gonzalez, Seth Smith

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