The Colorado Rockies can earn a split of this four-game set versus the San Diego Padres and stay within striking distance of the NL West lead with a win Sunday at Coors Field.
The Rockies' bats, though, were held in check in Saturday's 4-2 loss. The Rockies had scored at least five runs in each of the previous four games, but Padres starter Eric Stults was solid through seven innings and allowed two runs -- one earned -- and seven hits.
"I think Stults did a pretty good job navigating through some things, but I think that we're one or two timely hits away from winning that game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
Jeff Francis was activated from the disabled list prior to the game for Colorado and lasted just four innings, allowing four runs and six hits, including a home run to Kyle Blanks. Francis was 2-3 with a 6.00 earned run average in eight starts before a left groin strain sidelined him in mid-May.
"I think maybe there was some rust," Weiss said of Francis. "He was in a lot of deep counts, a lot of foul balls. He got extended pretty early, 30-plus pitches in the first inning. He had to work hard to get through four."
Dexter Fowler scored on a throwing error and DJ LeMahieu crossed the plate on a groundout for the Rockies, who are still 5-3 in the past eight games and sit even with San Francisco at 2 1/2 games off the NL West lead.
The Rockies are 1-2 on a 10-game homestand and will also host Washington and Philadelphia at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Juan Nicasio gets the nod for the Rockies Sunday and he is winless (0-1) in his past three starts. Nicasio was last in action Tuesday at Cincinnati in a 5-4 win and gave up three runs in six innings.
Nicasio, a right-hander, has allowed 10 runs over his past three starts and looks to remain unbeaten in his career against San Diego. In three lifetime starts in this series with the Padres, Nicasio is 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA.
San Diego will put the finishing touches on its seven-game road trip (3-3) before returning home for six straight versus Atlanta and Arizona.
In Saturday's win, the Padres' third in four tries, Stults was on point in the start and both Dale Thayer and Luke Gregerson threw a scoreless inning of relief. Gregerson posted his second save of the season in the ninth.
Everth Cabrera went 3-for-4 with an RBI, a run scored and two stolen bases. He has posted multiple hits in each of his last six games (15 total) and is riding a season-high and career high-tying nine-game hitting streak.
"Cabby gets his knocks. ... It looks as though he's turned the corner with his complete game," Padres manager Bud Black said of Cabrera.
It has been a rough season so far for supposed Padres ace Clayton Richard, who is slated to take the hill Sunday. Richard is just 1-5 with an 8.38 ERA in nine games, eight starts, this season and did not receive a decision in Tuesday's 9-7 loss at Los Angeles.
The Dodgers reached Richard for six runs and five hits, including two homers, over a 4 1/3-inning span. The left-hander has surrendered 12 home runs this season. Richard threw six scoreless innings against Colorado back on April 14 in a 2-1 loss and did not factor in the outcome.
Richard has made 12 career starts against the Rockies, going 2-4 with a 5.19 ERA in that time (69 1/3 innings).
The Rockies won the first six meetings with the Padres, taking three games in Colorado from April 5-7 and three more in San Diego from April 12-14.