Nationals
(42-71)
vs.
Rockies
(52-63)

Following a trip to the World Series last season, the Colorado Rockies have been one of the most disappointing teams in the majors this year. Jeff Francis has been at the center of the letdown.

Francis is expected to be activated from the disabled list and make his first start in more than a month Wednesday as the Rockies continue their four-game series against the Washington Nationals .

After winning 17 games last year to help Colorado capture its first NL pennant, the Rockies hoped Francis (3-7, 5.67 ERA) would again lead the staff in 2008. Instead, it's been a frustrating season for the left-hander and Colorado (51-63), which is eight games back of NL West-leading Arizona.

Francis started Game 1 of the division series, championship series and World Series and was the Rockies' opening day starter this season, but didn't get his first win until May 18. He gave up 11 hits and five runs in six innings of a June 28 start and went on the DL four days later with left shoulder inflammation.

Francis got healthy and was sharp at Double-A Tulsa, allowing one run while striking out 19 in 14 1-3 innings over three starts.

In three career starts versus the Nationals (42-71), he's 1-0 with a 5.29 ERA.

Colorado lost Monday's series opener 9-4 but defeated Washington 8-2 on Tuesday. The Rockies trailed 2-0 when they came to bat in the seventh before pinch-hitter Ian Stewart tied the game with a homer.

Colorado then scored six times in the eighth, taking advantage of four walks and two hit batters by three Washington relievers.

"You always see something new and I don't remember the last time I saw four walks and two hit by pitches in an inning,'' Nationals manager Manny Acta said.

Brad Hawpe hit a two-run single to put the Rockies ahead. He's batting .422 (19-for-45) with four home runs, four doubles and 16 RBIs in his last 11 games at Coors Field, with Colorado winning eight of those contests.

The Nationals, owners of the worst record in the majors, had their four-game winning streak snapped Tuesday as they lost for the 17th time in 21 road games.

Washington scored 28 runs and hit .381 (16-for-42) with runners in scoring position during the win streak, but went 0-for-6 in such situations Tuesday.

Odalis Perez (4-8, 4.16) takes the ball for Washington on Wednesday as he looks to build on one of his best starts of the season and continue his career success in August.

Perez got off to a strong start to the new month, giving up one run and three hits in a season-high 7 1-3 innings of a 5-2 win over Cincinnati on Friday. The left-hander should be glad July is over, as he went 1-3 with a 5.92 ERA in five starts last month.

July has been Perez's worst month, as he's 8-16 with a 6.20 ERA in 39 games. His best is August, during which he's 14-8 with a 3.80 ERA in 32 starts.

This will be Perez's first start against the Rockies since July 5, 2005, when he allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings of a 6-1 loss for the Los Angeles Dodgers . He's 6-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 17 starts versus Colorado, and 3-5 with a 6.93 ERA in nine starts at Coors.

BUY Nationals vs. Rockies Tickets
Batting
Runs Avg. OBP SLG
COL 535 .268 .339 .423
WAS 428 .244 .317 .365
Pitching & Defense
Runs ERA WHIP QS
COL 589 4.78 1.448 46
WAS 546 4.44 1.430 49