Cardinals-Rockies Preview

For all the momentum the Colorado Rockies have heading into

their series finale with the St. Louis Cardinals, their best player

is lacking in that area.

All-Star pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez tries to regain his dominant

form and help the Rockies sweep a three-game set from the Cardinals

on Thursday afternoon.

The Rockies (46-38) have rallied in dramatic fashion for both

their victories in this series. After erasing a six-run deficit

with a nine-run ninth inning Tuesday, Colorado gradually wiped away

a 5-0 fifth-inning deficit to win 8-7 on Chris Iannetta’s leadoff

homer in the ninth Wednesday.

“No matter what’s going on guys aren’t giving at-bats away,”

said Clint Barmes, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games. “No

matter what the deficit, we’re going to chip away.”

Iannetta provided a key blow in Tuesday’s rally with a three-run

homer and is 8 for 24 with four homers in his last six games.

Colorado’s surge could continue if Jimenez (14-1, 2.27 ERA)

reverts to form. The right-hander has struggled in his last three

outings – giving up 17 runs and 19 hits in 17 2-3 innings – after a

phenomenal 14-start stretch to open 2010 in which he conceded 13

runs in 101 1-3 innings.

Jimenez, in fact, may have endured what likely will be his worst

single inning of the year Saturday. San Francisco reached him for

seven runs in the third, but the Rockies bailed out their staff ace

by rallying to take a lead before eventually losing 11-8. Jimenez

allowed five hits and walked four in six innings, but he still has

a personal eight-game winning streak.

“I saw a bad third inning and then I saw five others where they

didn’t come close to running a run across the plate,” manager Jim

Tracy said. “He had a lapse. It happens. I think he’s still 14-1

and his ERA is in the low 2s. He’s still a pretty good pitcher in

my mind.”

Despite his recent woes, a victory would make Jimenez the first

pitcher to have 15 wins by the All-Star break since David Wells did

so for Toronto in 2000. Greg Maddux was the last NL pitcher to

accomplish the feat back in 1988 with the Cubs.

Jimenez is 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA in four starts against the

Cardinals (45-39).

Matt Holliday hit two homers Wednesday for St. Louis, which has

allowed 13 runs to Colorado in the seventh inning and later in the

two defeats.

“When you score 16 runs in two nights, and with our staff, we

generally win,” said Holliday, who has three homers, a double and

five RBIs in the two games against his former team. “It hasn’t

worked too well.”

Chris Carpenter (9-2, 3.16) looks to help the Cardinals avoid

the sweep. The right-hander had a personal five-game winning streak

snapped Saturday when Milwaukee tagged him for eight runs and nine

hits in three-plus innings of a 12-5 defeat, pushing his ERA up

nearly one-half run following his worst outing of the year.

Carpenter did not get a decision in his only start against the

Rockies last year despite limiting them to one run in seven

innings. He is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in five outings versus Colorado,

going 1-0 with a 0.63 ERA in two starts at Coors Field.