Braves-Rockies Preview

With a slim lead over the two-time reigning NL champions, the
Atlanta Braves know they’re headed for a pennant race in
September.

The Colorado Rockies hope to find themselves in the midst of one
as well.

There’s plenty of work to do for the Rockies to get back in the
wild-card hunt, but they’ll hope to start by picking up an elusive
third straight win as they continue their three-game set with the
visiting Braves on Tuesday night.

Colorado (64-60) alternated wins and losses in its first 16
games in August before dropping three straight from Thursday
through Saturday, but it’s finally put together a winning streak.
Todd Helton went 4 for 4 and drove in the go-ahead run Monday
against Atlanta, lifting the Rockies to a 5-4 win.

Helton’s first four-hit game since July 16, 2009, gave Colorado
its first consecutive wins since a four-game streak July 29-Aug.
1.

“Todd Helton, check his numbers,” said Braves catcher Brian
McCann, who’s hitting .200 (12 for 60) in August. “He puts together
great at-bats all the time. We knew coming in that he’s a guy that
can swing a bat and on any given night do what he did
tonight.”

Colorado pulled within six games of the Phillies in the
wild-card race, but it wasn’t the only team happy to see
Philadelphia fall. The Braves (73-52) remained 2 1/2 games ahead in
the NL East race thanks to the Phillies’ defeat.

The Rockies had scored five runs in their previous four games
before Helton’s big effort Monday, and they’d love to see more
performances like that from the five-time All-Star.

Helton might be able to stay hot Tuesday against Derek Lowe
(11-11, 4.32 ERA). Colorado’s first baseman is 15 for 45 with two
homers and seven walks versus the right-hander.

Lowe is 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA in his last five starts against the
Rockies, but 1-3 in his five most recent starts. He gave up four
runs and six hits over seven innings in a 6-2 loss to Washington on
Thursday.

Lowe will be opposed by Jorge De La Rosa (4-4, 4.74), who was a
hard-luck loser Thursday despite one of his best performances of
the season. The left-hander held the Dodgers to two runs and five
hits over seven innings, but Colorado mustered only two hits in a
2-0 defeat.

“How are you going to win with two hits and no runs?” manager
Jim Tracy told the Rockies’ official website. “The job that De La
Rosa did was terrific.”

De La Rosa’s lone start against Atlanta was one to forget. He
gave up seven runs, five hits and five walks in 3 2-3 innings of a
12-4 loss at Turner Field on May 20, 2009.

Outfielder Melky Cabrera is 3 for 5 with two doubles against De
La Rosa.

First baseman Derrek Lee, meanwhile, hasn’t gotten off to a
great start with his new team. Lee had a three-run double in
Sunday’s 16-5 rout of the Cubs, but that’s his only hit in 15
at-bats with Atlanta.

Lee struck out three times Monday after entering as a .333
hitter with five homers at Coors Field since 2004.