Rockies

Rockies Fall To Padres 4-2 In Jeff Francis’ Return

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Starting pitcher Jeff Francis #26 of the Colorado Rockies delviers against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field on June 8, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Francis collected the loss as the Padres defeated the Rockies.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Starting pitcher Jeff Francis #26 of the Colorado Rockies delviers against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field on June 8, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Francis collected the loss as the Padres defeated the Rockies. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

DENVER (AP) — Kyle Blanks hit a two-run homer off the foul screen and Eric Stults tossed seven solid innings, helping the San Diego Padres to a 4-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.

Everth Cabrera had three hits, including a bloop RBI double, and stole two more bases, running his season total to a major league-leading 28.

Jeff Francis (2-4) struggled in his first start since coming off the disabled list with a strained left groin. He allowed four runs and six hits in four innings.

Stults (5-5) never really ran into trouble against his former team, giving up seven hits and two runs (one earned) for his first win in four starts.

Dale Thayer pitched out of a jam in the eighth and Luke Gregerson closed out the ninth for his second save in three chances.

It was far from a routine save, though, as Gregerson had runners on second and third with one out, only to get Tyler Colvin to line out to second and then struck out Dexter Fowler to end the game.

The Rockies were 0 for 15 with runners in scoring position. One of their runs came courtesy of a throwing error and the other when Colvin grounded out in the seventh following D.J. LeMahieu’s one-out triple. Colvin was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs earlier in the day and entered the game as part of a double-switch.

Blanks hit his sixth homer of the season in the fourth, sending a changeup from Francis into the left-field bleachers to give the Padres a two-run lead. Cabrera later had an RBI double to left to make it a 4-1 game.

The powerful first baseman is having quite a series, going 6 for 11 with two homers and five RBIs. Blanks almost didn’t make the trip to Denver, either, headed for the minors before the Padres had a late change of plans when infielder Yonder Alonso went on the disabled list.

Up 4-2 in the ninth, the Padres had a chance to pad their lead when they loaded the bases with two outs. But Nolan Arenado made a magnificent play at third base, snaring Cameron Maybin’s slow roller with his bare hand and throwing him out at first base.

Stults nearly escaped a jam in the third when the Rockies had runners at first and third with one out. He struck out Carlos Gonzalez, but catcher Yasmani Grandal overthrew second with Eric Young Jr. stealing, allowing Fowler to trot home.

San Diego scored a run in the first when Chase Headley singled in Cabrera, who walked and stole second. Headley was back in the lineup after leaving the game Friday with tightness in his right calf after being hit by a pitch.

The soft-tossing Francis is auditioning to keep his spot in the rotation, especially with veteran Roy Oswalt throwing well for Double-A Tulsa. This didn’t exactly cement Francis’ place.

Then again, the original plan was for Francis to make one more rehab start for Triple-A Colorado Springs before appearing in a major league game. But that idea was scrapped when Tyler Chatwood’s turn in the rotation was skipped due to soreness in his triceps.

Michael Cuddyer missed his second straight game with sore ribs. The outfielder is hoping he will be healed in a few days and won’t have to go on the disabled list for a second time this season.

The Rockies are banged up in the outfielder, especially with Gonzalez bothered by a balky left knee. The slugger aggravated the injury on Friday and had to leave the game in the seventh. He said the knee has been giving him trouble since spring training, but it’s “good enough to be able to play.”

Gonzalez was hitless in four plate appearances Saturday and struck out twice.

NOTES: The Padres recalled RHP Burch Smith from Triple-A Tucson and optioned RHP Brad Boxberger. … The Rockies drafted SS Brody Weiss, the son of manager Walt Weiss, in the 22nd round. Brody Weiss is committed to play next year at UC Santa Barbara. “Guess I’ll have to negotiate with the Rockies in the next couple of weeks here,” Walt Weiss said, smiling. … Rockies closer Rex Brothers had his brother Hunter, a right-hander out of Lipscomb University in Tennessee, drafted by Colorado in the 24th round. … To make room for Francis, the team designated RHP Jon Garland for assignment. … The Rockies wore camouflage caps for Military Appreciation Day.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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