Rockies host Diamondbacks in rubber match

DENVER — Colorado and Arizona play the rubber match of their three-game series Sunday as Tyler Chatwood starts for the Rockies and Taijuan Walker takes the mound for the Diamondbacks.

Chatwood (2-4, 5.40 ERA) lost 6-2 Tuesday at San Diego. He held the Padres hitless for five innings but gave up four hits, including two homers, and five runs in the fifth and was knocked out after 5 1/3 innings.

Chatwood, who is 4-2 with a 4.39 ERA in eight games (seven starts) against Arizona has lost his past two starts after throwing a two-hit shutout April 15 at San Francisco, a game in which he retired the first 17 batters he faced and got 17 outs on ground balls.

In 36 2/3 innings this season, Chatwood allowed nine homers, all on fastballs and most on fastballs that the catcher called for inside. Chatwood has also issued 15 walks.

“He’s got to be able to finish off some games, finish off some innings that he just hasn’t been able to do with the exception of the game in San Francisco,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He’s shown me enough that this guy can be one of the best pitchers in the National League. For me, it’s about using all his pitches. Fundamental pitching principles — limiting the walks. There’s a little bit of a bad walk in there. The ball-strike ratio at times can get away from him.”

Walker (3-1, 4.19) is averaging 10.22 strikeouts per nine innings, up from 7.97 last year. He wasn’t involved in the decision in his last start Tuesday at Washington when he allowed three runs, five hits and five walks in 4 2/3 innings with six strikeouts while throwing 117 pitches. Arizona won 6-3.

In Walker’s only career start against the Rockies, he allowed three earned runs in 7 1/3 innings while pitching for Seattle at Coors Field on Aug. 5, 2015.

Gregor Blanco went 1-for-3 with an RBI in his first start for Arizona on Saturday, playing right field after Chris Owings was scratched from the lineup (illness). The Diamondbacks selected the contract of Blanco on Friday from Triple-A Reno, and he made his Arizona debut that night.

The Diamondbacks signed Blanco, 33, as a minor league free agent Jan. 18. He played with the Giants when they won the World Series in 2012 and 2014, and has 37 games of postseason experience.

Because of his nearly seven years of major league service time, Blanco could have left the Diamondbacks when they told him they were going to let him go after he suffered an oblique strain late in spring training. Instead, Blanco opted to remain in the Diamondbacks organization and played in six minor league games as he worked his way back to the big leagues with Arizona.

“There’s something about that that speaks volumes about who he is,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “He had a chance to move on. He could’ve gone elsewhere, but decided that this is where he wanted to be.

“It was a really good productive spring training for him. He was fighting to make the team. Then he spoke up about an injury, and it kind of set him back.

“We kind of committed to one another. We were going to get him healthy to see where that took us. It led him back here. So that’s a testament to how hard he worked and the commitment he gave to this organization.

“We’re really thrilled to have him. What I watch every day is a guy that’s a hard worker, a great teammate, a great leader, a great teacher. And he’s won championships before. Those eyes know what it takes.”