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Archive for Sunday, June 26, 2005

Rockies best of worst

June 26, 2005

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— For one night, home runs weren't the issue at Coors Field.

Jeff Francis pitched seven strong innings, and a pair of bases-loaded walks were the difference in a matchup between the two worst teams in the major leagues as the Colorado Rockies beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, Saturday night.

"If we don't get the help off the mound from (Francis), we might still be playing," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "Nine walks, a hit batter, seven hits, and we scored only four runs in this ballpark,"

Runelvys Hernandez forced in runs with walks to Francis and Eddy Garabito in the second inning.

"For whatever reason, he couldn't find the strike zone," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said. "He still gave us a quality-enough start to give us a chance to win."

Kansas City dropped to an AL-worst 25-48 with its fifth straight loss. The only major-league team with a worse record is Colorado (24-48).

Hernandez (5-8) walked a season-high seven in 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and four hits. Yet, he minimized the damage.

"He forced us to have a good outing from Francis," Hurdle said. "And Francis gave it to us."

Francis (6-5), who had lost three straight starts since beating Cincinnati on June 3, allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked one. He improved to 5-1 with a 3.50 earned-run average at Coors Field this season and 7-1 with a 3.29 ERA in his career at the hitter-friendly ballpark.

Francis credited a simple adjustment to his arm motion.

"I concentrated on worrying about my arm angle instead of everything in my delivery," Francis said. "I thought about one thing instead of 100 things at once."

Jay Witasick and Brian Fuentes finished with hitless relief, with Fuentes getting his eighth save in 10 chances.

Colorado took a 3-0 lead in the second, getting only three hits. Brad Hawpe led off with an infield single to second, Desi Relaford singled and Danny Ardoin walked on four pitches.

Francis walked on a 3-2 pitch to force in the first run, Garabito took four straight balls and Garrett Atkins hit a sacrifice fly.

"It was hard today, I couldn't throw strikes," Hernandez said. "I gave up a walk to the pitcher, and in my career I've never not been able to throw strikes to a pitcher."

Francis retired 10 straight going into the sixth, then allowed Terrence Long's sacrifice fly and Justin Huber's RBI single. Atkins hit an RBI double with two outs in the eighth off Mike Wood.

Notes: San Diego Chargers QB Drew Brees took batting practice before the game. ... Emil Brown has a 12-game hitting streak. ... The Rockies plan to have RHP Mike DeJean come in for a physical and a bullpen session on Sunday. He was released by the New York Mets on Monday.

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