Backed by homers, Francis tops Giants

Backed by homers, Francis stymies Giants

DENVER -- Colorado rookie left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis went to Coors Field and a normal baseball game broke out.


On Thursday afternoon, Francis held the San Francisco Giants to one run in six innings, and the bullpen pitched three scoreless frames as the Rockies won, 3-1, in front of 21,877.

The outcome further proved that not all baseball in Denver is a high-scoring affair, especially when Francis pitches.

"It's what baseball should be," he said.

Francis (4-1) is pitching like few pitchers have in the history of the park. Counting a late 2004 stint, Francis is 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA in six career home starts. Former Rockie Darren Oliver won his first six Coors Field decisions. Francis joined ex-Rockie Denny Stark and Greg Maddux, then with Atlanta, by starting 5-0 at Coors Field.

"Obviously, being home, that's a good thing," Francis said. "Even away from the field, being at home, everything's a little more familiar.

"So far, I've felt comfortable here. I just take an attitude that we can score just as many runs as they can. There are going to be some high-scoring games here, but it doesn't mean we can't win there. There might be a few more 10-9 games than 3-2 games."

This time, the low-scoring joke wasn't on the Rockies. On Wednesday night, Shawn Chacon was stingy as usual and the Rockies lost with him on the mound, 3-2.

On Thursday, Francis struck out five and didn't allow the leadoff batter to get on base four times. As a result, Colorado took two of three from the Giants and finished .500 on the 10-game homestand.

Giants starter Brett Tomko (3-6) gave up five hits in five pitch-filled innings (91 pitches total), allowing two runs -- a Luis Gonzalez homer in the second and a Cory Sullivan RBI double in the fifth after Desi Relaford drew a two-out walk.

Garrett Atkins added a sixth-inning solo shot off Matt Herges for his third home run in the last six games.

Atkins, also a rookie, is hitting more like the guy who batted .397 this spring. A right hamstring strain in the final exhibition game cost him the first 18 games of the season. Atkins had slipped into a 1-for-19 funk before the homestand, but Thursday's 2-for-4 showing brought his homestand numbers to .385 (10-for-26) with three home runs, a double, seven RBIs and six runs scored.

   Jeff Francis  /   C
Born: 01/08/81
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

Colorado's bullpen also was a bright spot, as Jose Acevedo, Jay Witasick and Brian Fuentes combined to allow three hits in three scoreless innings. Fuentes pitched the ninth to notch his first save since Sept. 21, 2003, against San Diego.

Francis snuffed out potential rallies in the first and sixth innings.

San Francisco's Pedro Feliz popped to center to end the first with runners at second and third. In the sixth, Lance Niekro homered with two out and Yorvit Torrealba followed with a double. But Francis struck out Omar Vizquel, getting him to chase an 0-2 fastball above the letters of his jersey.

"He continues to show a lot of poise," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was not his best stuff by any means, but he stayed out of trouble."

Francis leads National League rookies and is tied with Toronto's Gustavo Chacin among all rookies this season with four wins, including a 3-0 record and 2.92 ERA in four starts at Coors.

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