video thumbnail

CIN@MIL: Fiers perfect into seventh, allows one run

For Brewers starter Mike Fiers, Monday will be his first experience in the thin air at Coors Field. Rockies starter Jeff Francis, on the other hand, is a little more used to it.

Francis has made 78 career appearances at Coors Field, and is second in franchise history with 162 starts entering Monday. With a win, he'll move into sole possession of second on the Rockies' all-time wins list (he has 58, tied with Jason Jennings).

And if the comparison between their relative experience is stark, so is the difference in the way Fiers and Francis have thrown of late.

Fiers has been great. The rookie was perfect through six innings in his last outing against the high-powered Reds on Tuesday. He's in the midst of a streak of nine straight quality starts, a span in which he's posted a 1.03 ERA.

Francis, on the other hand, has struggled. He's 3-3 in his last 10 starts, but 0-2 in his last three. He's allowed four home runs in 11 2/3 innings in those three outings, yielding 19 hits while posting a 10.80 ERA. The best of the three was his last outing, in which he battled through four innings and gave up three runs, all on a first-inning homer by Dodgers star Matt Kemp.

"What I did see tonight that I didn't see his last couple times out was ... he had better life to his fastball tonight, he had better finish to his pitches than he's had the last two times out," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

Francis will have the Rockies' usual 75 pitches to work with. Milwaukee, pegged as a contender heading into the season, is looking to pick up as many wins as possible down a stretch run it thought would be a lot more meaningful at the start of the year. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke doesn't fully understand why his team hasn't been as advertised this year, but says it isn't for lack of trying.

"I don't think it's a lack of concentration and effort -- that's a good thing," Roenicke said. "I see the same atmosphere in the clubhouse. I see, when we go out for batting practice, the same thing. During the games, we're playing hard."

Brewers: Weeks back near the top of the lineup
• Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks was moved back to the two-hole in the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Astros, a big move for a player who struggled mightily early in the season after a stellar 2011 campaign.

Weeks, whose average has risen from .162 to .216 over his past 49 games, was hitting .369 over his last 16 to merit the move up the lineup. An All-Star in 2011, Weeks struggled on Sunday, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Rockies: Fowler returns to the lineup
• After missing Saturday's game with the Giants due to back spasms, Colorado outfielder Dexter Fowler was back in the starting lineup on Sunday. Fowler was injured while reaching for a fly ball early in Friday night's game.

Fowler was strong on the Rockies' four-game road trip, going 5-for-17 with a double in three games in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco. The 26-year-old is hitting .290 in 104 games this season, with 12 doubles, 11 triples and 12 homers. He was 2-for-5 in his return Sunday.

Worth noting
• Brewers first baseman Corey Hart and center fielder Carlos Gomez avoided hitless series against the Astros by collecting a hit apiece in Sunday's finale. Hart and Gomez both finished the series 1-for-12.

• The Rockies were 13-1 on the road, 30-3 overall when leading after seven innings coming into Sunday's game. They held a two-run lead after seven, but conceded five runs in the eighth to fall to the Giants, 9-6.

MLB.com Comments