Following a 10-game East Coast swing, the Rockies return home to host the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.
The Rockies (61-71) are a major league-best 14 games better at home than on the road. They won five of six on their last homestand, averaging 7.0 runs per while batting .325. Since then, they have scored 3.5 per game while batting .251 in their last 10 contests.
Dexter Fowler , a .211 hitter away from Coors Field, is among the major league leaders with a .313 batting average and 43 runs at home.
Nolan Arenado , whose batting average is 45 points higher at home, has proven invaluable for Colorado, playing all but one of its 108 games since being called up in late April. The third baseman started a key double play with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning before notching the go-ahead RBI double in the sixth inning of Colorado's 4-3 victory over Miami on Sunday.
"He had a huge game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "That's why it's tough to give Nolan a day off ever, you keep running him out there because he does stuff on defense to win you games."
The Rockies hope to further their momentum by again taking advantage Zito (4-9, 5.63 ERA).
He went 8-2 with a 2.47 ERA in his first 21 appearances against Colorado, and pitched seven innings in a 10-0 win April 10, but the Rockies have reached the left-hander for 13 runs and 29 hits in 17 innings over the last three matchups, winning two.
Carlos Gonzalez is 6 for 10 with two doubles and a home run this year versus Zito and a .378 lifetime hitter with two homers in this matchup. Fowler is 4 for 6 against him in 2013, raising his career average to .310 (9 for 29).
Zito has struggled keeping the ball in the park recently. After allowing four home runs in his first 79 innings, he has given up 12 over his last 41. Those issues continued in his return to the rotation Wednesday, yielding a home run and six runs overall in 3 2-3 innings of a 12-1 loss to Boston.
"Some strange stuff happened out there today," Zito said. "The nature of the game is so unpredictable. That's why we all love it and why we all hate it. You never know what you're going to get when you come to the yard."
Zito will be backed by a rejuvenated bullpen, which logged 4 2-3 scoreless innings Saturday and Sunday to give the Giants (58-72) a split of their four-game set versus the Pirates. Ryan Vogelsong helped his relievers' cause by scattering two hits in eight innings of a 4-0 win Sunday.
Pablo Sandoval highlighted a three-run eighth inning with his two-run triple. After going 3 for 37 through the first 10 games in August, he is batting .405 with 11 RBIs in 12 games since.
Sandoval, though, is just 2 for his last 20 at Coors Field and 1 for 9 overall against Rockies starter Juan Nicasio , who will face Zito for the third time this year. He did not get a decision in Colorado's 4-3 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday, yielding two runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Nicasio (7-6, 4.79 ERA) beat Zito 5-0 on May 19 at home after limiting the Giants to three singles and one walk in six innings. Neither got a decision six days later at San Francisco, where Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt allowed a two-run walkoff homer to Angel Pagan in a 6-5, 10-inning defeat.
|Jorge De La Rosa||5||.400||2||0||2||0||0||.400||.800||.400|
|San Francisco Giants|
|August 23, 2013||Matt Cain||15-Day DL||Right forearm contusion|
|August 22, 2013||Matt Cain||Day-to-Day||Left game - right arm|
|August 22, 2013||Andres Torres||15-Day DL||Strained left Achilles|
|August 20, 2013||Pablo Sandoval||Day-to-Day||Sore back|
|August 17, 2013||Chad Gaudin||15-Day DL||Carpal tunnel syndrome|
|August 15, 2013||Sandy Rosario||Day-to-Day||Bruised sternum|
|August 25, 2013||Troy Tulowitzki||Day-to-Day||Sore ribs|
|August 23, 2013||Rafael Betancourt||15-Day DL||Right elbow sprain|
|August 19, 2013||Yorvit Torrealba||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 08, 2013||Christian Friedrich||60-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|August 05, 2013||Carlos Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Sprained right middle finger|
|August 01, 2013||Tyler Chatwood||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
DENVER (AP) -- Juan Nicasio has figured out how to beat teams with his arm. He also showed he can do it with his bat.
Nicasio threw six shutout innings and added an RBI single to lift the Colorado Rockies over the San Francisco Giants 6-1 on Monday night.
Todd Helton homered to move within three hits of 2,500, and Charlie Blackmon also homered for the Rockies.
Buster Posey singled and reached base for the 49th straight game against Colorado.
Nicasio (8-6) struggled with his location early this season and was sent to Triple-A on June 28 to work on his command. He is 3-2 since rejoining the Rockies on July 12, but has pitched deeper into games.
"It's a hard slider that he's throwing that he's getting swings and misses," manager Walt Weiss said. "When he gets it near the plate it's been effective. Early on, a lot of those sliders were a ball out of his hand and didn't really serve a purpose."
The Giants struggled against the righty, managing just four hits. Two came in the first inning when they loaded the bases before Nicasio struck out Pablo Sandoval to end the threat.
"First inning, bases loaded and no runs, I was feeling happy," Nicasio said.
Giants starter Barry Zito didn't share the feeling.
The Rockies began a nine-game, 10-day homestand with a strong performance against Zito (4-10), who has struggled away from home this season. His numbers didn't improve in his short outing at Coors Field.
Zito allowed five runs and nine hits and struck out one in four innings in his second start since being put back into the rotation. He is 0-8 with a 9.61 ERA on the road this season.
"I don't know about tonight," he said. "I thought I had good command."
He worked out of trouble in the first inning before the Rockies got to him in the second.
Nolan Arenado led off with a bloop single - one of his three hits - and Helton crushed a 1-1 curveball into the Rockies bullpen to give Colorado a 2-0 lead. It was Helton's ninth homer of the season and the 363rd of his 17-year career.
Blackmon, who entered the game in the second inning for Dexter Fowler , led off the third with his fourth homer to give the Rockies a 3-0 lead. Colorado tacked on two more runs in the fourth on a bases-loaded single by Nicasio and a ground out by Blackmon.
"I looked the film on the home runs. Buster had his glove on the ground and that's where the pitches were on the home runs," Zito said. "I wanted the curveballs down and away, and that's where they were."
The Giants got a scare when right fielder Hunter Pence crashed into the wall trying to track down Michael Cuddyer 's triple in the first inning. Pence lay on the warning track before San Francisco's trainers came out to tend to him. After a brief examination he stayed in the game.
"He hit the wall pretty good, I mean really good," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He got the wind knocked out of him. Once he got his wind back he was all right. I'm sure he will be ready to go."
Pence and the Giants couldn't do much against Nicasio, who tied a season high with nine strikeouts. He finished his night by striking out Brandon Crawford with runners on first and third to end the sixth.
"He's come a long way minimizing damage," Weiss said. "The big one was the sixth inning. We really wanted him to get through the sixth without having to go to the pen. Our guys were pretty taxed so we didn't want to go there that early, so that was big for Juan to get through that sixth inning."
The Giants spoiled the shutout attempt on Joaquin Arias ' two-out RBI double off Jeff Francis in the ninth.
NOTES: Rockies right-hander Rafael Betancourt has a torn elbow ligament, the closer said Monday night. Betancourt said he will have platelet-rich plasma therapy instead of Tommy John surgery in the hope of returning sooner. ... Fowler left with a left lateral knee bruise. He is day to day. ... The outfield sprinklers came on briefly while the Giants were in the field in the fourth inning. ... Colorado SS Troy Tulowitzki (sore oblique) sat out his second straight game. He is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday. ... Rockies RHP Tyler Chatwood (elbow) will make a rehab start with Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday. He is scheduled to throw 75 pitches and could be back in the rotation this weekend. ... Giants LHP Jeremy Affeldt (left groin strain) threw a bullpen session in Arizona on Monday. He next will go on a rehab assignment. ... San Francisco OF Andres Torres (left Achilles strain) flew to North Carolina to see a specialist. ... Giants RHP Yusmeiro Petit (0-0) will face Colorado RHP Chad Bettis (0-2) on Tuesday night.