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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, April 22nd (All times Eastern)

Atlanta Braves (13-5) at Colorado Rockies (13-5), 8:40 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Atlanta - Mike Minor (2-1, 0.95) Colorado - Jeff Francis (1-1, 8.25)

(Sports Network) - Veteran lefty Jeff Francis makes his sixth career start against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night when the Colorado Rockies host them to kick off a three-game matchup of National League division leaders at Coors Field.

The Braves are three games in front of the Washington Nationals in the NL East, while the Rockies are 1 1/2 up on the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

Francis, a British Columbia native who won 17 games with the Rockies in 2007, has been roughed up in three starts in 2013 while splitting two decisions and posting an 8.25 earned run average.

He allowed one run in six innings of a 5-2 win over San Diego on April 5, but has since taken a loss and a no-decision against San Francisco and the New York Mets while allowing 16 hits and 15 runs in six innings.

Now 32, Francis is 3-2 in five career meetings with Atlanta while allowing 20 runs in 26 1/3 innings and allowing Braves batters to hit .351 against him.

He's won no more than six games in a season since 2007, winning four apiece in 2008 and 2010 and six each in 2011 and 2012.

Atlanta starts Tennessee-born lefty Mike Minor, who's making his third appearance against Colorado.

The 24-year-old has been solid in all three outings thus far in 2013, defeating the Chicago Cubs and Miami and dropping a tough luck 1-0 verdict to Kansas City.

In 19 innings, he's allowed only two runs, walked one batter and struck out 16 while holding foes to a .217 batting average.

Minor is 1-0 against the Rockies with a 6.00 ERA in 12 innings.

On Sunday in Pittsburgh, Clint Barmes had a pair of RBI singles, and the Pirates notched their third straight win with a 4-2 victory over the Braves in the finale of a four-game set at PNC Park.

The Braves have dropped four of their last five since winning 10 in a row. Gerald Laird and Andrelton Simmons each had two hits and an RBI.

Atlanta starter Kris Medlen (1-2) struck out six over six innings of work and was charged for three runs on seven hits and a walk in defeat.

In Colorado, the Arizona Diamondbacks plated two runs in the top of the ninth inning to end Colorado's eight-game winning streak with a 5-4 victory in the finale of a three-game set.

With Colorado closer Rafael Betancourt needed to pitch the previous two games, Wilton Lopez (0-1) was summoned upon to try and lock down the save in the ninth.

He was unsuccessful after surrendering a single to Didi Gregorius and a double to A.J. Pollock before Arizona pulled even on pinch-hitter Alfredo Marte's grounder to third.

Pollock moved to third base on the play and scored on a sac fly from Gerardo Parra to put the D-backs in front, 5-4.

The Braves won six of seven games against the Rockies in 2012 and six of eight against them in 2011. Colorado won the series in 2010, 4-2.

04/22 10:45:22 ET