Aiming to keep pace, Rockies and Nats resume set at Coors

A pair of clubs striving to reach the top of their respective divisions clash Tuesday at Coors Field, as the Colorado Rockies open a three-game series versus the Washington Nationals.

The Rockies are two games behind Arizona for the NL West lead and have enjoyed a solid month of June so far, going 6-3 in the first nine games. They opened a 10-game homestand by splitting a four-game series with the San Diego Padres and recorded an 8-7 win in 10 innings on Sunday.

Dexter Fowler plated pinch-runner DJ LeMahieu on a single with two out in the frame and made a winner out of relief pitcher Rex Brothers, who threw a scoreless top of the 10th inning for the win. The excitement didn't stop there, as Carlos Gonzalez's two-run double in the home half of the ninth highlighted a three-run frame and sent the game into extras.

Gonzalez drove in three runs and Troy Tulowitzki had a two-run homer for the Rockies, who saw starter Juan Nicasio allow two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out seven over six frames in the no-decision.

"It's as good as I've seen Juan this year. He was at the bottom of the zone, his good fastball, and he was up to I think 95 or 96 (mph)," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Threw some good changeups today and then the slider, all three were working for him. Just that sixth inning they got some balls up, it looked like."

Gonzalez also made a few run-saving catches in the outfield to keep the Rockies hopeful for a win. Fowler went 4-for-6 and scored three times and Brothers has now thrown 25 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, second-most in the majors.

Keeping opposing lineups off of the scoreboard has been an issue with Jhoulys Chacin, who will make his 12th start for the Rockies. Chacin was 3-0 with a 1.46 earned run average in his first four starts, but is currently 0-3 with a 6.43 ERA in his past seven outings.

Chacin has posted four straight no-decisions, including one in last Thursday's 6-5 loss to San Diego. He allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings and has given up 23 runs in the past five outings. The right-hander is 3-3 with a 4.59 ERA in 11 starts and 1-2 in three career starts against Washington.

The Rockies will also host Philadelphia for three games on this homestand.

Washington will start a nine-game road trip Tuesday against Colorado, Cleveland and Philadelphia, and will be in the midst of playing 24-of-34 games away from Nationals Park.

The Nationals swept a doubleheader from the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, as Ian Desmond had three hits and two RBI in a 7-0 victory in the opener. Anthony Rendon drove in three runs and starter Jordan Zimmermann limited the Twins to two hits and a pair of walks over seven shutout innings while matching a season-high with eight strikeouts.

"It means I'm pitching pretty well, I'm going deep in the ballgame," Zimmermann said. "I'm giving the team a chance. For the most part, they have scored quite a few runs for me. Hopefully, we can get another win tonight."

The Nationals, who are seven games off the NL East lead, did just that in a 5-4 win in the second contest. Desmond drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI double in the seventh inning and Jayson Werth had two hits and drove in two runs for Washington, which rallied from a 4-1 deficit to win for the third time in five tries.

Dan Haren draws the start for Washington Tuesday and is 0-4 with a 5.83 ERA in his last five starts -- all losses for the Nats. Haren was battered for five runs and seven hits in four innings during last Wednesday's 10-1 setback to the New York Mets and fell to 4-7 in 12 starts with a 5.45 ERA.

"I laid another egg tonight," Haren said. "I have to be better."

Haren is only 1-5 in six home starts and has made 14 career starts against the Rockies, going 7-5 with a 3.87 ERA.

The Nationals and Rockies will meet for the first time this season Tuesday and are scheduled to clash June 20-23 at Nationals Park. Colorado took four of the seven matchups a season ago.