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(Sports Network) - In order for the Colorado Rockies to record their first road sweep since last August, starting pitcher Jeff Francis must pitch better than he has been this season. Francis will make his ninth start today in the finale of a three-game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Francis was 1-0 in his first two starts, but has gone 1-2 with a 4.54 earned run average in six trips to the hill since. Francis, who is fully recovered from a shoulder issue, has recorded back-to-back no-decisions and previously took the mound in Friday's 4-3 win over the LA Angels of Anaheim.
The lefty gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings at the Big A and is 2-2 with a 3.53 ERA in eight starts this season. Francis is 1-1 in three road outings and will make his 19th career start against the Padres. He is just 5-10 over the first 18 matchups with San Diego.
Colorado has won the first two portions of this set and eight of 12 overall, and is coming off Tuesday's 6-3 victory over the Friars. Jason Hammel hurled six innings of three-run ball and a bevy of relievers went the rest of the way to preserve the triumph. Randy Flores, Joe Beimel, Matt Belisle, Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street combined to go three scoreless innings with Street fanning two batters in the ninth for his first save.
Clint Barmes belted a three-run homer and knocked in four runs, while Carlos Gonzalez homered for a second straight night for the Rockies, who won Monday's series opener, 10-6, behind Ubaldo Jimenez's 14th win of the season.
"We've been without that all year, it seems like," Barmes said of the power surge. "It's nice to actually have some guys kind of click together at the same time and kind of get some momentum offensively for our pitching."
The Rockies are four games behind the Padres for the NL West lead and haven't swept a road series since Aug. 18-20 against the Washington Nationals.
San Diego will try to salvage the finale of this series and entered this series fresh off a three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins. In Tuesday's loss, Wade LeBlanc dropped to 4-6 on the season after he surrendered three runs and two hits with eight strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.
"He pitched great, really did," Padres manager Bud Black said of LeBlanc. "Made some adjustments from his last start in Tampa, carried those over tonight. Pitched into the seventh inning, which is what we need as we move forward."
Jerry Hairston Jr. homered for the NL West-leading Padres, who will send Clayton Richard to the hill in Wednesday's series finale. Richard had been 0-2 in five starts before beating the Marlins last Friday with six shutout innings and five K's. He improved to 5-4 with a 2.75 ERA in 15 starts.
Richard, a left-hander, threw five innings of three-run ball in a 6-5 loss to the Rockies for a no-decision on May 5. he is 0-1 in four career starts against Colorado.
The Rockies have won six of eight meetings with San Diego this summer after going 10-8 in the 2009 season series. They haven't swept a series at Petco Park since winning all three meetings from Sept. 21-23, 2007.