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09/10/09 3:54 AM ET

Taste of home gives Rox boost in race

Colorado (80-60) vs. Cincinnati (63-76), 1:10 p.m. MT

DENVER -- The Rockies returned from their last road trip to much fear and hand-wringing.

They had lost five straight and been swept in a three-game set by the Giants, who moved into a tie atop the National League Wild Card Standings. They weren't hitting at all.

That seems so long ago.

The Rockies did exactly what they needed. They've cleaned up against three less-successful clubs -- the Mets, D-backs and Reds. If they beat the Reds on Thursday afternoon at Coors Field, the Rockies will have gone 9-1. That's a strong sendoff for their final extended road trip of the season -- nine games in 10 days against the Padres, Giants and D-backs.

Part of the reason for success has been the shrewdness of general manager Dan O'Dowd's roster moves for September. Jason Giambi, being used as a left-handed pinch-hitter, is 2-for-5 with four walks and four RBIs. And on Thursday, right-hander Jose Contreras has a chance to follow up on a strong Rockies debut.

On Saturday, Contreras held the D-backs to one run and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings. The Rockies had acquired him from the White Sox for prospect right-hander Brandon Hynick.

It's not an unfamiliar opponent for Contreras. While with the White Sox, Contreras pitched six innings and gave up three runs on nine hits in a 4-3 loss to the Reds in an Interleague Play game at Great American Ball Park on June 19.

Pitching matchup
COL: RHP Jose Contreras (6-13, 5.19 ERA)
When Contreras commands his fastball and gets ahead in the count, he's capable of nights like Saturday, when he won his Rockies debut. When he doesn't get early strikes, performances like those that led to a 5-13 record and 5.42 ERA with the White Sox can happen. Contreras believes a bullpen session with Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca before his debut start with the club might have unlocked some success.

CIN: RHP Kip Wells (1-3, 4.85 ERA)
Wells has made three starts for Cincinnati, and the Reds have won them all. After two no-decisions, he got his first win in the Majors as a starter since 2007 by beating Atlanta on Saturday. He allowed just one hit over six innings, although he struggled at times with his control. Wells walked four and hit a batter. He made 97 pitchers, with 46 of them balls and 51 strikes. Wells has allowed just three hits over 11 innings in his past two starts, walking eight. He began the 2008 season with Colorado before going on the DL with a blood clot and then being released in August.

Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba saw his career-best hit streak end at 16 games on Wednesday night. It was the longest by a catcher in team history, the longest by any catcher in the Majors this season, and tied for the longest by a Rockies player this season. Todd Helton hit in 16 straight games July 26 to Aug. 11. ... Infielder Mike McCoy, who spent most of his eight-year career in the Minors with the Cardinals, made his Major League debut for the Rockies as a ninth-inning defensive replacement at second base in Wednesday night's victory over the Reds. ... Second baseman Eric Young Jr. has hit leadoff and scored three runs in the last two games.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
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Up next
• Friday: Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa, 14-9, 4.51) at Padres (Edward Mujica, 3-4, 3.51), 8:05 p.m. MT
• Saturday: Rockies (Ubaldo Jimenez, 13-10, 3.32) at Padres (Tim Stauffer, 4-6, 3.49), 8:05 p.m. MT
• Sunday: Rockies (Jason Marquis, 15-10, 3.65) at Padres (Clayton Richard, 8-5, 4.88), 2:05 p.m. MT

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.