Rockies Look To Continue Winning Ways With Jason Hammel On Mound

(Sports Network) - Jeff Francis showed last night that he still belongs in Colorado's rotation. That hasn't been an issue for Jason Hammel for most of this season.

Coming off his first loss in nearly two months, Hammel will try to pitch the Rockies to a second victory in a row over the Florida Marlins tonight in the continuation of a four-game series at Sun Life Stadium.

Hammel has met expectations and then some this year for Colorado. Though he was just 1-3 with a 7.52 earned run average following his first six starts, the Rockies stuck with him and were rewarded. Hammel went 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA in nine starts following a loss on May 21, but his unbeaten streak ended last Thursday versus Cincinnati.

The right-hander yielded three runs on eight hits over seven innings against the Reds, while striking out a career-high 10 batters in a 3-2 setback. The 27-year-old righty fell to 7-4 with a 4.07 ERA on the season, with three of those four setbacks coming on the road, where Hammel has a 5.66 ERA in six starts.

Hammel is 0-2 with an 8.71 ERA in four career appearances versus the Marlins, two of those starts.

There were some talks that Francis might be on his way out of the rotation, but the veteran silenced those critics for now during last night's 10-0 victory. He entered the start 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA in 11 starts before holding the Marlins to just three hits over seven scoreless innings, in addition to striking out a season-high seven batters.

"This was by far his best performance of the year," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said of Francis. "The reason it happened was because he pounded the strike zone with his fastball."

Melvin Mora backed his starter with three hits, one a two-run homer, and five RBI. The veteran fell a triple shy of the cycle for the Rockies, who improved to 2-3 on an 11-game road trip, with both victories coming by way of a shutout.

The Marlins took Monday's opener, 9-8, on Donnie Murphy's pinch-hit, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, but were limited to just the three hits last night. Starter Nate Robertson, meanwhile, yielded eight runs -- seven earned -- on six hits over five innings.

Florida had a string of three consecutive victories end and failed to match its longest winning streak of the season, while also suffering its largest margin of defeat in 2010.

"It's real disappointing, especially after [Monday] night," Marlins third baseman Wes Helms said. "We had the momentum. And to come out and absolutely look like we had holes in our bats -- as hitters, we just did not do our job tonight. We just played sloppy baseball. It's really disappointing, because we felt like we were starting to play better."

Like Hammel, Florida starter Ricky Nolasco will also be looking to get into the win column after having a personal winning streak end. Nolasco had won four straight starts prior to Friday's setback to Washington, yielding four runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts over just 5 1/3 innings. Nolasco had pitched seven innings in each game of his win streak.

He fell to 9-7 with a 4.66 ERA this year after suffering his first loss since June 17, and will aim to remain undefeated in his career versus Colorado. The 27-year-old beat the Rockies on April 24 on the road, yielding a run on seven hits over eight innings with nine strikeouts. That improved Nolasco to 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in five games (four starts) lifetime versus the Rockies.

The Rockies took two of three from the Marlins at home from April 24-25.

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