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Sat, Jun 8, 2013 - 7:15 PM ET
 

Padres-Rockies Preview

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Jeff Francis was just starting to pitch better when he got injured.

The Colorado Rockies hope that carries over Saturday night when they go for an eighth win in nine games against the San Diego Padres this season.

After going 0-3 with an 8.25 ERA in his previous six outings, Francis (2-3, 6.00 ERA) threw six innings of one-run ball in a 9-4 win road win over the Chicago Cubs on May 14. It was the veteran left-hander's first victory since his season debut April 5.

Francis, though, suffered a slight groin strain in that outing and was placed on the DL two days later.

He's set to return after a four-inning appearance for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Monday, when he struck out five with three earned runs allowed.

"It sounded like it went pretty well - no physical problems," manager Walt Weiss told the Rockies' official website. "... It's a good step going forward."

Francis is taking the spot of Tyler Chatwood, who might only miss one turn after leaving Monday's 3-0 loss to Cincinnati with right triceps soreness. Francis gets the ball after the Rockies evened this four-game series with Friday's 10-9 victory.

Nolan Arenado's walkoff homer came after six unanswered runs by the Padres (28-33), who snapped a six-game skid in this NL West series with Thursday's 6-5, 12-inning victory.

"Hit a couple in the minor leagues. Hitting one up here is special," said Arenado, 8 for 17 in the last three games.

The Rockies (33-29) are batting .299 and averaging 6.6 runs per contest while winning five of seven this month to take over second place in the division.

Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Todd Helton, Michael Cuddyer and Dexter Fowler are hitting a combined .354 with 13 homers and 34 RBIs during that run.

However, it's uncertain if Cuddyer, who sat Friday with a rib strain, or Gonzalez, who had two triples before leaving that game with a left knee injury, will play Saturday.

Eric Stults (4-5, 3.74) probably wouldn't mind if they took another day to rest.

The left-hander has surrendered two runs or fewer in five of his last seven appearances, but he's won just twice during that stretch. Stults' run-support average is 2.89 after taking the loss in Monday's 2-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Any time you start, you want to work deep into the game, and you want to finish the game," Stults, who was charged with two runs in seven innings, told the Padres' official website.

He's 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts versus Colorado, with the last coming in 2009 while with the Dodgers.

Francis has faced the Padres more than any team, going 7-13 with a 5.53 ERA in 26 starts. He can expect to see Kyle Blanks in the lineup after he went 3 for 5 with a two-run homer and three RBIs on Friday. Blanks started at first base with Yonder Alonso getting placed on the DL earlier in the day with a fractured hand.

Blanks, Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin each have four hits for the Padres this series, while rookie Jedd Gyorko is 6 for 10 with a homer and Everth Cabrera is 5 for 11 after extending his hitting streak to eight Friday.

Padres third baseman Chase Headley, a Colorado Native, is questionable after leaving Friday's game with right calf tightness.

Tagged: Padres, Rockies, Jeff Francis, Eric Stults, Carlos Gonzalez, Kyle Blanks

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