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Rockies, Desperate for Sweep, Face Off Against NL West Leading San Diego

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(Sports Network) - If the Colorado Rockies are going to return to the postseason, they need to turn it around soon. This weekend would be a good start, as they begin a three-game series against the National League West- leading San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

Colorado enters the weekend set 7 1/2-games back of the Padres. However, the Rockies could be catching San Diego at the right moment, as the Padres have dropped a season-high seven in a row.

"Things aren't going our way," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "We will spin out of it."

Colorado, which is 6 1/2 back of Philadelphia in the Wild Card race, has also won eight of its 12 meetings with the Padres in 2010, including wins in four of the six matchups in San Diego. That trend could continue this evening, as the Rockies will be facing a pitcher making his major league debut in left- hander Cory Luebke.

Luebke, the 63rd overall selection of the 2007 draft, has dominated the minors while splitting the season between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Portland, posting a 10-1 record with a 2.68 ERA in 19 outings (17 starts) before his contract was selected by the Padres when rosters were expanded on Wednesday.

"I'm just going to take it a start at a time," Luebke said. "[Black] let me know I was pitching Friday, so I'll get myself ready on Friday and whatever this team needs me to do."

San Diego had its lead over San Francisco trimmed to three games with a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.

The usually reliable San Diego bullpen gave up four runs after starter Mat Latos gave up a run and four hits in six full frames and matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts. Latos, 22, has now yielded two runs or less in 14 straight outings, a feat last accomplished by Greg Maddux 16 years ago.

"Our bullpen, I believe, is the best in the National League," Black said. "Let's leave it at that."

Colorado, meanwhile, watched Philadelphia overcome a four-run deficit by crossing the plate nine times in the seventh inning on Thursday. The Rockies made things interesting, scoring four more runs after that, but came up short in a 12-11 loss.

Carlos Gonzalez continued his hot hitting by belting his 31st home run amid a 3-for-5 night. Chris Iannetta and Dexter Fowler slugged second-inning home runs and knocked in three runs apiece for Colorado, which has lost three straight after winning seven of eight.

A combination of Joe Beimel, Reynolds and Manny Delcarmen (0-1), who was making his Rockies debut, were responsible for the seventh-inning meltdown.

Taking the ball for the Rockies this evening will be Aaron Cook, who is expected to be activated from the disabled list prior to tonight's start. Cook has not pitched since spraining his right toe in a loss to the Giants back on August 3.

Cook has lost his last three starts, though, surrendering 15 runs in just 9 2/3 innings of those outings. He is 4-8 with a 5.34 ERA on the season.

"If Aaron Cook is really good, then obviously there's the possibility of keeping Cookie in the rotation," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. "But I wanna see the guy pitch. The worst thing in the world for you is trying to run somebody down in the Wild Card and/or division and getting pitched out of a game in the second or third inning. That's really not an option if that can happen on any type of consistent basis."

Cook has been terrific in his career against the Padres, having gone 13-4 with a 2.86 ERA in 24 games (22 starts). He is also an impressive 6-1 in 10 starts at Petco.