Three's a crowd atop the NL West standings, but the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants will both try to change that as they meet up Friday at AT&T for the opener of a three-game series.
The Rockies, Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks are all tied for the division lead with identical 26-21 records entering the weekend. While Colorado and San Francisco face off against one another, the D-backs are hosting San Diego.
Colorado has won five of its last six, and that includes taking three of four from the Giants at home this past weekend. After topping Arizona in extra innings Tuesday night, the Rockies claimed the series victory with Wednesday's 4-1 win. Carlos Gonzalez tripled and homered to account for two of his team's four runs, while starter Jorge De La Rosa tossed 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball.
The Rockies are in the middle of a stretch that will see them play 13 of 17 games against NL West teams, including 10 in a row.
"The whole plan is to beat the teams that are ahead of us," said Gonzalez, who sits fourth in the league with 11 home runs. "It's a good feeling, and it creates a lot of motivation for us."
Notching another victory here won't come easily against a San Francisco squad that is a major league-best 17-8 at home. The Giants missed out on a series sweep over Washington on Wednesday night as the Nationals rallied for a 2-1 win in 10 innings. Starter Madison Bumgarner pitched seven solid frames but reliever Jeremy Affeldt later gave up a walk-off single to Ian Desmond.
Still, manager Bruce Bochy took solace in the fact that his starting pitchers allowed only three runs in 19 innings (1.42 ERA) during the series.
"The guys bounced back," Bochy said. "They got on track here. This was more like our baseball. It was very encouraging how we played in this series."
Second baseman Marco Scutaro, who was traded from Colorado to San Francisco at last year's trade deadline, went 0-for-3 on Wednesday to see his hitting streak halted at 19 games. Scutaro has been a spark plug for the Giants batting from the No. 2 spot in the order, where he is hitting .463 (38-for-82) with six doubles over his last 20 games.
Hoping for some more of that production will be Giants starter Tim Lincecum, who has yet to find his groove after a disappointing 2012 campaign. The right- hander has allowed five runs or more in three of his last four starts, including Saturday against these same Rockies when he was tagged for six runs in five innings. Lincecum also allowed six runs against Colorado in an April 9 outing.
For the Rockies, Tyler Chatwood (2-0, 2.55) is making his fourth start of the season and second in a row against San Francisco. The right-hander was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs to face the Giants this past Saturday, and he gave up just one run in 5 2/3 innings of an eventual 10-2 victory.
"He's a great competitor," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's really done a nice job. We will figure stuff out as we go, but Tyler has thrown the ball really well for us. He's been very impressive."
The Rockies piled up 31 runs in Colorado in last weekend's four-game set with the Giants.