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Matt Holliday Returns To Coors Field As Rockies Begin Series Against Cardinals

(Sports Network) - A pair of 2009 playoff teams get together tonight, when the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Colorado Rockies for the first of three straight games at Coors Field.

The Cardinals, who won the National League's Central Division by 7 1/2 games last season, find themselves in second place towards the halfway mark this time around, trailing the Cincinnati Reds by two games in the six-team division.

Colorado, meanwhile, was the league's wildcard participant a year ago with 92 wins and is now third in the NL West Division, five games behind first-place San Diego and 1 1/2 games in back of the wild card-leading the New York Mets.

Former Rockies ace Jeff Francis, who won 17 games for National League champion Colorado in 2007, takes the mound tonight for the 10th time this season.

He won just four times in the season following his breakout, then was out of commission last year with injuries before debuting with a seven-inning stint against Washington on May 16 this season.

He split his first four decisions of 2010, then fell one below .500 with a 13-3 loss to San Diego in a June 30 start, allowing seven hits and eight runs in just three innings.

Francis, who's 1-1 in five starts at Coors Field this season, is 4-1 lifetime against the Cardinals with a 2.61 earned run average in 48 1/3 innings.

For the Cardinals, reliever-turned-starter Blake Hawksworth gets the call for the fourth time this season.

The 27-year-old Canadian made 18 bullpen appearances to begin 2010, then started for the first time in his big-league career on June 7 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Three more relief outings followed before Hawksworth returned to the rotation with consecutive starts on June 26 and July 1 that yielded a win and a loss as he gave up eight hits and four earned runs in 11 innings.

He's made three relief appearances against the Rockies in 54 major league games, allowing four hits and four runs in four innings with a walk and three strikeouts.

Both Hawksworth and Francis, incidentally, are natives of Vancouver, British Columbia.

On Sunday in Colorado, Todd Helton lofted a sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the 15th inning and the Rockies beat San Francisco, 4-3, to take three of four from their National League West brethren.

Colorado's Dexter Fowler tripled off the wall in left-center to begin the winning rally.

It was the second straight inning the Rockies had the leadoff man on third. Seth Smith walked, stole second and advanced to third after the throw from catcher Eli Whiteside rolled into center field. He was later thrown out at the plate attempting to score on a shallow fly ball off the bat of Miguel Olivo to end the 14th.

As they were forced to do in the previous inning, Giants reliever Guillermo Mota (0-3) intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases, bringing up Helton, who struck out looking with the bags full to end the 13th. He hit the first pitch he saw from the veteran right-hander to give Colorado its fifth win in seven games.

Randy Flores (2-0) tossed a scoreless top half of the 15th and was credited with the win.

In St. Louis, Adam Wainwright notched his fourth complete game of the season and added a bases-clearing double as the Cardinals pounded Milwaukee, 7-1, in the finale of a four-game set from Busch Stadium.

Jon Jay homered and knocked in two runs for the Cardinals, who earned a split in the series.

Wainwright (12-5) scattered five hits and a run while fanning nine and walking none to win for the fourth time in five starts.