Rockies-Nationals Preview

Though the Colorado Rockies will be below .500 at the All-Star

break for the first time since 2008, they’d love to close the first

half by continuing their success against the Washington

Nationals.

Colorado goes for a three-game sweep and a sixth consecutive

victory over Washington on Sunday at Nationals Park.

Each of the Rockies’ last four wins against the Nationals has

been by a one-run margin, including Saturday’s 2-1 victory. Ubaldo

Jimenez pitched eight strong innings and Todd Helton drove in both

runs to give manager Jim Tracy his 200th win with Colorado

(43-47).

“It’s obviously a good game to win,” Tracy said. “And (Sunday)

would probably be even better to win that ballgame and create some

serious momentum for ourselves going into the break.”

The Rockies are 17-6 in the nation’s capital since the Nationals

relocated from Montreal in 2005. However, Colorado is currently in

third place in the NL West, 7 1/2 games behind first-place San

Francisco.

“At this point, it’s not just about winning a series, it’s about

winning every game,” closer Huston Street said. “We’ve got to play

catchup and do it quick. We’ve got to put ourselves in the

conversation and become relevant, and you have to win to do

that.”

Michael Morse had his third multihit game in four contests

Saturday and leads the Nationals with a .306 average, but he’s not

headed to the All-Star game and Washington (45-46) is trying to

avoid its first four-game home skid since dropping six straight

last September.

All three losses on the current slide were one-run defeats.

“These one-run games, they’re just flukes,” shortstop Ian

Desmond said. “One of those things. They’ll turn around for

us.”

The Rockies’ Jhoulys Chacin (8-6, 3.28 ERA) hopes not as he

looks for his first win in four starts.

An inability to consistently find the strike zone has been a

reason for the right-hander’s struggles. Chacin has walked 15 in 16

2-3 innings over his last three games, and is among the NL leaders

with 49 this year.

He tied a career high by issuing six bases on balls for the

second time in three starts as the Rockies fell 5-3 to Atlanta on

Tuesday.

“I just couldn’t control my pitches,” said Chacin, who allowed

four runs and four hits. “If you don’t make your pitches, you start

walking people.”

Chacin walked one in five innings but allowed six runs while

losing his only career start against the Nationals last year. He

has never taken the mound in Washington.

Though he’s pitched well recently, Jordan Zimmermann (5-7, 2.82)

also will be looking for his first victory in four starts.

The right-hander hadn’t surrendered an earned run over 15

innings in two starts before giving up four through six innings

against the Chicago Cubs on Monday. The Nationals won 5-4 in

10.

Zimmermann, who hadn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his

previous eight games, will make his first home start against the

Rockies. He didn’t factor in the decision in Washington’s 5-4 loss

at Colorado on July 7, 2009.