Jimenez, Rox back home to battle Cubs

Jimenez, Rox back home to battle Cubs

PHILADELPHIA -- Throwing his fastball at 100 mph, or something near it, is not necessarily golden for Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.

The scoreboard was showing triple figures at the beginning of his previous start, when he went eight innings of a 6-2 victory over the Reds on Saturday at Great American Ball Park.

Many could quibble over whether the gun was a little fast. But no one would put his top speed at below 98. However, one of the early triple-figure pitches went for a Jonny Gomes home run.

Alas, Jimenez doesn't expect triple figures in his next start, when the Rockies open a key four-game set with the Cubs at Coors Field on Friday night.

"When we play on the road, like in Cincinnati, where it's humid, your arm feels much stronger and you have that attitude," Jimenez said. "You feel like you want to let it go.

"But in Denver, you think, 'I want to get a ground ball.' I'm not thinking about speed, just locating my fastball."

Jimenez, however, might have a little more hop in his heart, if not on his fastball, because of the atmosphere at Coors. The last homestand, when the Rockies went 4-2 against the D-backs and the Giants, featured electric atmosphere and four crowds exceeding 40,000.

"The fans were really in the game," Jimenez said. "Now they know we're in the fight for the Wild Card. Everybody's all excited about us."

The Rockies are coming off a 5-5 road trip, after having lost the first three against the Mets.

"Not every club can sit in the clubhouse and say with 54 games, one-third of the season, left, we've got something to play for -- something special to play for," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Not every club has the opportunity to say that. We do.

"And you'd have thought during the latter part of May, we wouldn't be discussing that today."

Pitching matchup
COL: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9, 3.76 ERA)
Was the gun at Great American Ball Park a little off Saturday night? It clocked Jimenez as reaching 100 mph on multiple occasions. But that actually wasn't important. Jimenez and catcher Yorvit Torrealba realized the Reds were sitting on his fastball, no matter how hard he threw it. So Jimenez went eight innings and didn't let a runner past first base after the second inning. He struck out eight in a 6-2 Rockies victory. In his next start, Jimenez will face the Cubs at Coors Field, where he is 4-4 with a 3.99 ERA.

CHC: RHP Carlos Zambrano (7-4, 3.35 ERA)
Zambrano had to come out of his previous start after three innings because of back stiffness. He gave up two runs on three hits in the brief outing, his shortest of the season. He will be vying for his fourth straight win. On the road, Zambrano is 5-2 with a 3.17 ERA. The right-hander is winless in three starts at Coors Field.

Tidbits
Jimenez is 2-0 with a 3.54 ERA in his past four starts. ... Rockies first baseman Todd Helton has hit safely in 11 straight games. ... Right fielder Brad Hawpe, who struggled for much of the road trip, singled off Phillies closer Brad Lidge in the ninth inning as a pinch-hitter on Thursday.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN

On radio
• KOA 850

Up next
• Saturday: Rockies (Jason Marquis, 12-7, 3.49) vs. Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 5-5, 4.09), 6:10 p.m. MT
• Sunday: Rockies (Jason Hammel, 6-6, 4.62) vs. Cubs (Randy Wells, 8-4, 2.73), 1:10 p.m. MT
• Monday: Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa, 9-8, 5.00) vs. Cubs (Tom Gorzelanny, 4-1, 3.38), 6:40 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.