Rockies begin big stretch at Coors this weekend

Reigning World Series champion Giants pay visit, followed by D-backs

Rockies begin big stretch at Coors this weekend

CHICAGO -- The Rockies built their confidence with a 17-hit, 9-4 victory over the Cubs on Tuesday night, and had a chance Wednesday to finish .500 on their road trip before losing, 6-3. But the first big stretch of their schedule begins this weekend.

The Rockies begin four games at home with the Giants on Thursday night, three more at Coors Field against the D-backs, then three road games against the Giants.

The Giants, winners of two of the last three World Series, have simply dominated the Rockies. The Giants swept a three-game set at AT&T Park in April, beat them 14 out of 18 games last season, and won 13 of 18 in 2011. The first two games this year were typical of many of the meetings. Games were close in the middle innings, but San Francisco won with big hits, stellar pitching and mistake-free execution.

"They put together a lot of team at-bats," Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. "They're a real good situational at-bat team. They don't expand the zone to help out the pitcher to let the pitcher off the hook. The pitcher is constantly having to earn every out they get against that club. That's how they ended up winning the championship last year."

Beating such clubs would be a good way for the Rockies to develop championship confidence. They led the National League West after the first month and will go home above .500 -- not bad for a club that lost 98 games last year. However, they are 7-15 against teams with winning records.

"This is very important," said Rockies right-handeder Jhoulys Chacin, who will start Thursday night's opener. "We really want to be in the competition this year, so we really have to beat those teams - the Giants, the Diamondbacks … We just have to play the right way."

The Rockies also have to avoid the mental trap of expecting to falter in close games against a team that always seems to know what to do under pressure. In the earlier series this year, the first two games were close and the Rockies had golden chances to win, yet the Giants won by 4-2 and 9-6 scores.

"From a baseball standpoint, you appreciate the way they go about their business," outfielder Eric Young Jr. said. "From a competitive standpoint, at that big moment, you've got to make sure the game stays in your favor.

"The majority of the times we play them, it's a close game and they always seem to get the one or two hits that are key for their team. It's not like they're blowing us out of the water. They're finding ways to win. I feel like ever since I've been in the big leagues, every game we've played the Giants we've been in it, but they always seem to find that key moment."

Pitching has helped the Giants every bit as much as the savvy in the lineup, and the starters for the series -- Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito -- represent championship pedigree. However, when the Rockies have succeeded, they've taken advantage of hitter-friendly Coors Field.

This year's Rockies are 11-7 at Coors Field, but have lost home series to the Braves, Rays and Yankees, all contending teams. In each of those cases, hitting in general and with runners in scoring position was not up to the standards the club needs to meet its goal of dominating at home.

"It's tougher to accept when we don't do it at home," Weiss said. "That's the thing we talked about a lot in the beginning of the season, establishing our success and dominance at home."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for 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.