3/26/2013 1:27 A.M. ET
Rockies rack up 26 hits in rout of Indians
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Todd Helton, Josh Rutledge and Wilin Rosario each swatted four hits, and Chris Nelson and Michael Cuddyer hit their first home runs of the spring in an 18-4 pounding of the Indians on Monday night at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Helton, with three singles and a double, was one of many leaders of an offense that posted 20 hits through the fifth inning and finished with 26 hits. The Rockies sent 12 batters to the plate in a seven-run, eight-hit second inning, as Helton and Rosario each singled twice. The Rockies took nine turns during the five-run, six-hit fourth.
"It means everybody's getting their timing down and seeing the ball better," Nelson said. "You see a guy in front of you get a hit and get next guy get a hit, you don't want to be the one to roll over on a ground ball."
Nelson struggled with the timing of his leg kick early in camp.
"I've felt pretty good the last four or five days," he said.
Nelson, who hit .301 last season in his first year as the primary starter at third base but is trying to fend off a challenge from prospect Nolan Arenado, parked a three-run homer to left in the big second inning off Indians starter Brett Myers, who yielded 10 runs on 14 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Cuddyer's first homer was a leadoff shot in the fifth off Indians reliever David Huff.
Rutledge doubled twice on a night when he improved his batting average from .222 to .286. Rosario had three singles and a double, Dexter Fowler's three hits included a double. Nelson's three hits improved his average from .231 to .273.
Rockies starter Jeff Francis threw 98 pitches in five innings and gave up three runs on nine hits. Francis completed strong Cactus League work (3-1, 2.70 ERA) by striking out three and walking no one.
Francis was tested in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth innings. He scored from first, and had to slide to do it, on Fowler's fourth-inning double, then pitched a quiet fifth.
"I was happy in the fifth inning, coming out and having a quick inning after a long inning," Francis said. "I did some good things, made some adjustments."
The Indians' Jason Kipnis drove in two runs.
Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez left the game in the fourth because of allergies, the team reported.
Up next: Right-hander Jon Garland, who pitched well for the Mariners but found no room in the rotation, will make his Rockies debut Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. MT against the Dodgers at Glendale, Ariz., in MLB.TV's Free Game of the Day.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.