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Fowler's return to form boosts Rox offense

Fowler's return to form boosts Rox offense

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Fowler's return to form boosts Rox offense

DENVER -- For all the power in the middle of the Rockies' lineup, it made sense that it took leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler to pull the offense out of its recent rut.

Fowler's two-run triple started turned Saturday night's game against the Cubs -- an eventual 9-3 victory.

Rockies were 35-32 when Fowler was hit on the right ring finger by a pitch from the Nationals' Ross Detwiler on June 13. That was the same day that shortstop Troy Tulowitzki suffered a broken rib that cost him 25 games, but it could be argued that Fowler's injury was just as devastating.

Between being hit and June 25, his last appearance before going to the 15-day disabled list with a wrist injury that was related to compensating for the finger pain, Fowler played just seven games and hit .174 with a .296 on-base percentage. The Rockies were 3-4 in those games. Between Fowler being hit and his return from the DL on July 11, the Rockies were 9-16.

Fowler went 0-for-4 in a loss to the Dodgers in his first game back, but from the next game through Saturday the Rockies were 3-2 while Fowler hit 6-for-19 (.316) with a double, a triple, a home run and four RBIs and compiled a .391 on-base percentage.

Fowler entered Sunday's start against the Cubs hitting .288 with a .385 on-base percentage. If he can return to the numbers before the day he was hurt -- .303 with a .397 on-base -- it could make the Rockies' lineup that much more effective. The All-Star break didn't give the finger time to heal completely; that'll happen in the offseason. But in two games, he has a home run and a triple.

"I've just got to keep treating it, doing manuals and all that, trying to get it back right, but it won't be right until the offseason," Fowler said. "But it's manageable."

Fowler admitted he might have benefited from going to the DL sooner.

"You never know what's going to happen," he said. "You think you can play through it, but it ends up getting worse. With something like that, I probably should have waited a little longer before trying to play, but it was just my eagerness to get back on the field."

Fowler's homer Friday off Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija was his first since June 2, but it brought his total to 11 -- two shy of his career high. Fowler said he's not consciously looking for home runs but feels they're a natural outgrowth of his swing, as long as he is healthy.

"I'm just trying to drive the ball and see what happens," Fowler said.

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.

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