Phillies-Rockies Preview

The Colorado Rockies may prefer to have a whole series against

the Philadelphia Phillies as they chase the NL wild-card leaders,

but they’ll hope to make the most of one game as the teams make up

a May rainout Thursday at Coors Field.

Colorado (69-63) already squandered a chance to gain ground on

another opponent this week.

The Rockies’ 2-1 win at San Francisco on Monday was their

seventh in eight games, but they totaled three runs while dropping

their next two to the Giants – remaining seven games behind NL

West-leading San Diego and four back of San Francisco.

They’re also 5 1/2 games behind Philadelphia, which has stayed

atop the wild card race by going 5-1 to begin its seven-game road

trip.

The Phillies (75-58) followed a three-game sweep at San Diego by

taking two of three from the Dodgers, racking up 13 runs and 19

hits in victories Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some of the biggest bats for the two-time reigning NL champions

may be awakening. Jimmy Rollins went 2 for 4 with a two-run home

run in Wednesday’s 5-1 win, raising his disappointing average to

.244, while Ryan Howard’s first homer since July 27 – a three-run

shot – powered Tuesday’s 8-4 victory.

“It’s pretty amazing what these guys are able to turn it on when

it counts,” closer Brad Lidge told the Phillies’ official website.

“I think that’s the one thing we’ve done the past couple years

since I’ve been here. It takes everybody to do it, but it’s a

pretty great group of players.”

While Philadelphia is 11-2 on the road since the start of

August, Colorado has won 12 of 15 at home. The Rockies have

averaged 3.5 runs while going 26-42 on the road, but they’ve scored

5.8 per game in Denver, where they own a 43-21 record.

They’ve struggled everywhere, however, against the Phillies

lately. The Rockies are 4-17 versus Philadelphia since the start of

2008, including a four-game defeat in last year’s NL division

series.

Colorado has dropped five of six in the 2010 season series,

which wraps up Thursday.

The pitching matchup Thursday, between Philadelphia’s Joe

Blanton and Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin, is hardly an elite one but

each right-hander has been sharp recently.

Blanton (6-6, 5.15 ERA) is unbeaten in his last seven outings

for Philadelphia, going 3-0 with a 3.27 ERA in that stretch –

including a win over Colorado on July 26. He held the Rockies to

two runs in six innings of a 5-4 victory.

He’s walked one batter in 19 1-3 innings over his last three

starts, a major reason why he’s 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA over that

span.

The 22-year-old Chacin (7-9, 3.79) has allowed one run and seven

hits over 14 2-3 innings while winning back-to-back starts,

regaining his grip on a rotation spot after a stint in the minors

from July 24-Aug. 16.

The rookie fanned seven in seven innings of Saturday’s 5-3

victory over the Dodgers, giving him 109 strikeouts in 102

innings.

“Another terrific performance by that young kid,” Rockies

manager Jim Tracy said.

Carlos Gonzalez also continues to impress for the Rockies. The

24-year-old outfielder was his team’s lone offensive bright spot in

a 2-1 loss Wednesday, going 3 for 4 with a home run. He’s 17 for 33

(.515) with five homers and 13 RBIs during a nine-game hitting

streak.