Rocky Mountain News

HomeColorado Rockies

Spilborghs leads spirited effort

Two RBI, Francis' sharp outing give Colorado series win

Published May 24, 2007 at midnight

Box score

PHOENIX - A typically precise performance from Jeff Francis and an off-the-bench jolt Wednesday from Ryan Spilborghs helped the Rockies finally overcome what had become a considerable obstacle.

They savored their first shutout win since July 24, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-0 to win only their third series this season.

The Rockies had plenty of practice and had experienced a heap of disappointment in rubber games. They were 1-7 in such encounters with seven consecutive losses when they could have won a three-game series.

"It's kind of like you think you're trying to break through paper and sometimes it's Saran Wrap," manager Clint Hurdle said. "You just got to keep bucking your head against it and keep going. So we got through it. . . . It's nice to put one away that's close."

For the third time this season, the Rockies, 3-1 winners Tuesday, won while scoring three runs or fewer. Before the series, the only time they did that was May 7, 3-2 at St. Louis.

The Rockies were 1-6 in series on the road, a record they improved upon in large measure because of Francis. He held the Diamondbacks to five singles in seven innings and left after throwing a season-high 119 pitches.

It was the fifth consecutive start he pitched at least seven innings; he's 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA in those games.

" I didn't have a feel for a lot except my changeup, so I was happy to get through it like I did," Francis said. "Hopefully, I can get it back for the next time out."

Where Francis has created expectations and an old-shoe feel of comfort, Spilborghs, to some degree, represented the unknown. Recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday, he made his first start after three pinch-hitting appearances and led off for the first time in his big-league career. Hurdle likened batting the high-energy Spilborghs first to Arizona doing the same with Eric Byrnes, topping the order with a hitter capable of doing some extra-base damage.

Spilborghs did that when he doubled home a run in the third after Jamey Carroll led off with a single and was sacrificed by Francis. Those three chipped in again on the Rockies' second run, in the fifth, when Carroll led off with a walk, Francis sacrificed and Spil- borghs singled Carroll home.

"I've been in the big leagues five different times now, and I've been in those situations," Spilborghs said. "I'm looking for a pitch to hit and not really intimidated by anybody and not really feeling the pressure."

Francis' seven innings allowed the Rockies to turn to their two most dependable relievers. Manny Corpas retired the side in order in the eighth with two strikeouts but closer Brian Fuentes, who equaled his career high of nine saves in any month and earned his 13th this season, had runners on first and second and one out after allowing two singles.

Second baseman Carroll put on a pickoff play he and Fuentes began working on last year. They practiced it in spring training but never used it in an exhibition game and used it for the first time this year when Carroll saw Mark Reynolds edging away from second and signaled Fuentes

"I know he hasn't seen Brian's move," Carroll said. "We were just going to see if he fell for it."

Fuentes said most of the time the move is designed to keep the runner from getting a big secondary lead. This time it struck pay dirt, and having deflated the Diamondbacks, he got Chris Snyder to fly out and end the game.

Francis faced only four Arizona batters with runners in scoring position. He pitched himself into a bit of a jam with two walks in the third sandwiched around Doug Davis' sacrifice but escaped by getting Conor Jackson and Orlando Hudson to fly out.

With two out in the sixth, Francis gave up back-to-back singles to Byrnes and Reynolds but threw a 3-2 changeup for a called third strike to a disbelieving Carlos Quentin.

Francis gave up a two-out hit in the seventh, a pinch-hit single to Robbie Hammock. But any hopes the Diamondbacks had of mounting a rally against him quickly were dashed as he struck out Stephen Drew.

Back to Top

Search »