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Rockies Look For Sweep Against Atlanta Braves

(Sports Network) - Sensational play at home is a big reason why the Atlanta Braves sit atop the National League's East Division, but the team continues to find the going tough at Denver's Coors Field.

The Braves attempt to avoid their first series sweep in over two months in this afternoon's finale of a three-game set with a Colorado Rockies squad trying to remain in the playoff picture.

Atlanta has lost the initial two tests of this series and three of its last four overall following last night's 5-2 setback to the Rockies. The defeat dropped Bobby Cox's club to a subpar 29-36 on the road this season, though the Braves still hold a 2 1/2-game advantage on second-place Philadelphia in the NL East after the Phillies fell to Houston on Tuesday.

Colorado, on the other hand, closed within five games of the Phillies and San Francisco in the league's Wild Card race and has now riding a three-game win streak.

Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez each had two hits and a pair of RBI to back seven strong innings from Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa in last night's triumph, with Gonzalez and Seth Smith both connecting for home runs off Atlanta's Derek Lowe.

De La Rosa (5-4) held the Braves to two runs and struck out seven while issuing just one walk in a sharp performance.

"Maybe as good a slider as I've seen him have all year long," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy of De La Rosa.

Lowe (11-12) also pitched well in a six-inning stint but was hurt by the long ball, as the veteran righty gave up Gonzalez's two-run blast in the opening frame and a solo shot to Smith in the sixth.

"This is the best stuff I've had over the course of a game," Lowe remarked. "I gave myself a chance more than any other time here."

Alex Gonzalez knocked in both Atlanta runs and finished 2-for-3 in the loss, while Omar Infante extended his hitting streak to 13 games by leading off the contest with a single. The valued utilityman is batting .429 (24-for-56) with three homers over that span.

The loss was the seventh in the Braves' last 10 visits to Coors Field, a place where today's starter Jair Jurrjens has actually achieved success in the past. The talented right-hander is 2-1 in three career outings in Denver and has allowed just six runs over a combined 20 2/3 innings of work at the hitter- friendly venue.

The road has not been kind to Jurrjens this year, however. He's 0-4 with a 6.00 earned run average in eight away starts thus far in 2010, a stark contrast to the Curacao native's 5-0 mark and 1.81 ERA at home.

Jurrjens has turned in good efforts in each of his last two road assignments, though, including Friday's no-decision at Chicago in which he threw seven innings of three-run ball. Two starts previously, he limited Houston to two runs -- one earned -- over 7 1/3 frames but also didn't factor in the final outcome.

In six overall meetings with the Rockies, Jurrjens is 4-1 with a very solid 3.02 ERA. The 24-year-old struck out a season-best nine batters in eight innings during a no-decision against Colorado on April 18.

He'll be asked to stop Atlanta's first potential three-game slide since the team was swept in an interleague series with the Chicago White Sox from June 22-24.

Esmil Rogers gets the call for the Rockies in the finale, with the rookie set to make his fourth start since returning from a brief stint in the minors and first-ever encounter with the Braves.

Rogers is 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA following his recall from Triple-A Colorado Springs earlier this month and had a nice showing in a no-decision at Arizona this past Friday. The young righty yielded only one run and struck out a career-high six Diamondbacks while lasting 6 1/3 innings.

The 25-year-old pitched primarily in relief during his time with the big club earlier in the season and is 2-2 with a 4.53 ERA in 16 overall games (five starts) with the Rockies. In nine appearances -- including one start -- at Coors Field, Rogers has recorded a 3.32 ERA.