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09/29/07 1:54 AM ET
Rockies fall short of win No. 12
Francis is outdueled by Webb; Wild Card hopes take hit
By C.J. Moore / MLB.com
DENVER -- There would be no game-winning Rockies homer, no curtain calls and no heroics Friday night at a sold-out Coors Field. The Diamondbacks got in the way of destiny and ended the Rockies' 11-game winning streak with a 4-2 victory. Instead of the Rockies controlling their own destiny, they need some help, with two games left to play. One Rockies loss or one Padres win will keep the Rockies out of the playoffs. "Obviously, it's very tough to take, when you run off 11 in a row and you're still behind some people," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "You'd think you'd be on top of either the Wild Card or the [National League] West, but unfortunately, we weren't and the other teams did a good job of winning games when they needed to." Missed opportunities, Brandon Webb and Conor Jackson played spoiler to the Rockies' fairy tale run. After the Rockies had scored 76 runs in their past 11 games, Webb (18-10) held them to two runs through seven innings, using his sinker to force 15 ground-ball outs. "We had a lot of Webb to deal with," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We had couple opportunities and we didn't use that big barrel like we have been. We stayed after it and had some guys on base, [we] just didn't get that big click when we needed it." The Rockies' best opportunities against Webb came in the third and seventh innings. After Conor Jackson gave the D-backs a 3-0 lead by sending a high Jeff Francis fastball into the left-field bleachers in the third inning, Francis started a rally with a single up the middle in the bottom of the inning. Kazuo Matsui followed with a double. Francis then got thrown out while trying to score on a Troy Tulowitzki ground ball. Matt Holliday salvaged the inning with a two-out RBI single, but then Webb retired nine of the next 10 Rockies and faced the minimum through the next three innings. Garrett Atkins ended Webb's streak with a leadoff single in the seventh and scored on a Brad Hawpe double. Hawpe advanced to third on a Yorvit Torrealba sacrifice bunt, but Webb struck out Cory Sullivan and got Matsui to ground out to end the inning with Hawpe stranded at third. But as the Rockies have shown with the comeback wins they've had this season -- and during the winning streak -- no lead is ever safe at Coors Field. "We've said it many times, we don't think we're going to lose, until we lose," Hurdle said. After walking two straight with one out in the ninth, Diamondbacks closer Jose Valverde gave the Rockies fans among the 48,190 in attendance some hope as they rose to their feet. But Valverde forced those in attendance at Coors Field to sigh, with two straight strikeouts of Joe Koshansky and Matsui to end the game and guarantee the Diamondbacks a spot in the playoffs. "It's too bad, because we're on this winning streak, and we've really taken advantage of every opportunity," Torrealba said. "But, today wasn't like that." The Rockies had also ridden a hot starting pitching staff during their winning streak. But Francis didn't have his best command on Friday, giving up four runs over seven innings, with the high fastball to Jackson being his biggest mistake. "He wasn't all there tonight, but he battled," Torrealba said. "That's one thing I really like about this guy. He battles when it's not his best day." The Rockies are now left to battle for their playoff lives. The Rockies have to win their final two and the Padres have to lose their final two, which would force a tie in the Wild Card and a one-game playoff. "We need to hold onto the fact that we have a game to play tomorrow, and not lose sight of how far we've come, the distance we've traveled and not lose sight of there's still time, still game," Hurdle said. "Tomorrow night we have to put a foot down and win a game."
C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.