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Rockies Attempt Series Split Against All-Star Josh Johnson

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(Sports Network) - The Rockies struggled against one Marlins starter last night. Their offensive scuffle could be extended another day as Colorado is set to face Florida's Josh Johnson this afternoon in the finale of a four-game set at Sun Life Stadium.

After the Rockies suffered a tight 9-8 loss in Monday's opener, they routed the Marlins the next night with a 10-0 triumph. However, Colorado managed just Seth Smith's two-run homer in the eighth inning in Wednesday's 5-2 loss.

All of Florida's runs came in the first two innings, including Gaby Sanchez's three-run homer in the second frame. Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla both drove in runs to back Ricky Nolasco, who yielded just four hits over eight innings to collect his 10th win of the season and improve to 5-0 in his career versus the Rockies.

"A five-run lead makes all the difference in the world. They were swinging at some pitches early and doing me a favor," Nolasco said after his club won for the fourth time in five games.

On the other side, Colorado's Jason Hammel lasted seven innings but gave up the five runs on six hits. The Rockies lost for the fifth time in seven games and are 4 1/2 games behind National League West-leading San Diego.

"You can't spot a guy like that five runs and expect to come out with a win. I think our team did a great job battling," Hammel said.

The Rockies are in for another battle tonight as they face the major league's leader in earned run average in Johnson, who seeks a third straight win and like Nolasco will try to remain unbeaten versus Colorado.

Johnson has thrown a total of 14 scoreless innings over his last two victories that were sandwiched around an All-Star appearance -- as well as 15 consecutive scoreless innings overall -- and is coming off Saturday's win over the Nationals. The 26-year-old worked around seven hits without a walk in six innings, striking out seven to improve to 10-3 with a 1.62 ERA.

The right-hander hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his last 12 starts and is 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA in three games (two starts) lifetime against the Rockies.

Jorge De La Rosa will make his third start today for the Rockies since coming back from a left middle finger injury, and his first two haven't been good ones.

The left-hander lasted just 4 1/3 innings versus the Padres on July 9, getting a no-decision after allowing seven runs, five of those earned. He then hurled just 3 1/3 frames against the Reds on Saturday, taking the loss and being charged with seven runs -- six earned -- on four hits and five walks. De La Rosa also allowed three homers in the setback and failed to strikeout a batter for the first time since a one-inning relief stint on June 7, 2008.

"Jorge had trouble [Saturday] with his command and it haunted him," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy.

The 29-year-old is 3-2 with a 6.16 ERA and 3-4 with a 6.57 ERA in eight games -- seven starts -- lifetime versus the Marlins, who he beat on April after giving up two runs on four hits over five innings in his last start before his disabled-list stint.

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