(Sports Network) - The Colorado Rockies have put together a couple of strong Septembers over the past few years. They've been even more successful in recent meetings with the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field.
Colorado shoots for an eighth consecutive win over the Reds in Denver, as well as a fifth straight victory overall, when the resurgent Rockies continue a key four-game series with first-place Cincinnati tonight.
The Rockies, who won 14 of their final 15 regular-season tests to claim the National League's Wild Card berth in 2007 and went 10-1 to begin September of last season en route to another postseason trip, seem to be at it again. Monday's 10-5 decision over the Reds was Colorado's 10th victory in its past 15 tilts and kept Jim Tracy's squad 4 1/2 games behind front-running San Diego in the NL West race.
"We feel like we control our own destiny," said Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki after Monday's result. "We play the guys in front of us enough. If we play well and win the series each and every time we're going to move on."
Tulowitzki went 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBI in the opener to help ace Ubaldo Jimenez earn his 18th win of the season, while teammate Carlos Gonzalez kept up his hot hitting with a 3-for-5, two-RBI performance at the plate. The standout outfielder is batting a sensational .536 (30-for-56) with six homers and 18 runs driven in over a career-high 14-game hitting streak that has raised his season average to an NL-best .340.
Jimenez (18-6) became the first NL hurler to reach the 18-win mark on the year despite allowing four runs and walking six batters over six shaky innings. The 2010 All-Star still outpitched counterpart Aaron Harang, who lasted just 2 1/3 innings for Cincinnati and was roughed up for four runs on four hits and walked three.
Bill Bray (1-2) took the loss for the Reds after surrendering three runs, including Tulowitzki's tie-breaking solo homer in the bottom of the fifth, in 1 2/3 innings of relief.
The Reds have now dropped three of the first four contests on their current seven-game road trip and had its lead atop the NL Central brought down to six games after second-place St. Louis defeated Milwaukee on Monday.
The setback was also Cincinnati's seventh in a row at Coors Field, where the club hasn't won since August 22, 2008. Although the Reds did take two of three bouts from the Rockies in Ohio back in July, Colorado is now 16-3 in its last 19 matchups with Cincy following yesterday's verdict.
Cincinnati turns to Johnny Cueto in hopes of reversing those trends this evening. The young right-hander has put his team in position to win plenty of times this season, having compiled a 12-4 record along with a 3.41 earned run average through his 26 starts of 2010.
Cueto has been on top of his game in each of his past two outings. He held the Chicago Cubs to one run and struck out eight without a walk over eight excellent innings in a victory on August 27, then yielded just one run in six frames in a no-decision against Milwaukee this past Wednesday.
This will be Cueto's second-ever appearance against the Rockies. The first took place at Coors Field during his rookie campaign of 2008, with the now 24- year-old removed after issuing three walks and giving up an unearned run in only three innings of work.
Jhoulys Chacin gets the call for Colorado tonight and will be aiming to return to the win column following a no-decision in his latest assignment. The rookie did not factor in his club's 12-11 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, a game in which he pitched the first 5 1/3 innings and permitted three runs, two of which were unearned.
Chacin was outstanding in each of his two starts that preceded Thursday's outcome. After fanning nine Arizona hitters over 7 2/3 shutout innings to beat the Diamondbacks on August 22, the 24-year-old limited the Los Angeles Dodgers to a run on four hits and struck out seven in seven frames to notch another victory six days later.
The native Venezuelan has pitched twice previously against Cincinnati in a relief role, including a 2 1/3-inning stint on July 17 in which he struck out four hitters in addition to giving up a solo homer to Gomes.