Hard-luck Hammel not focused on stats

Hard-luck Hammel not focused on stats

PHOENIX -- When four Rockies starting pitchers reached 10 wins, it seemed only a matter of time before right-hander Jason Hammel would hit double figures.

After Hammel won for the eighth time on Aug. 20, the Rockies won three of his next four starts, but he didn't figure in the decision in any of them. In his last start, at San Francisco, he had some of the best action on his pitches this season. He was victimized for four runs and seven hits in six innings, but other than a Bengie Molina homer, he gave up singles -- and some of them were soft.

There's still time for Hammel to reach the magic 10. His start Saturday night against the D-backs could move him closer.

The Rockies need all the victories they can get as they try to maintain a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League Wild Card standings. Hammel would like to have one, if for no reason than to keep the jokesters in the clubhouse at bay.

"There are jabs left and right here," Hammel said with a smile. "But, honestly, the wins would be nice, but as long as the team wins, we're shooting for one ultimate goal, and that's the World [Series] championship. I need to go out and do what I can to help this team win this game."

Hammel has filled his role in the rotation admirably as the games have become more important. He has gone at least six innings in five of his past six starts, which means he's in the strike zone, being efficient and keeping the team in position to win.

It also means he has avoided the pitfall of trying to do more, which often leads to mistakes.

"Maturing as a player, you have to learn to stay within youself," Hammel said. "There's a maturity level on this team. Everybody's doing their part, and not going beyond. They know the guys that surround them are going to do their part, too.

"What I'm building on is being consistent."

Pitching matchup
COL: RHP Jason Hammel (8-8, 4.38 ERA)
In his last start, Hammel got the bad luck of facing the Giants with a motivated Tim Lincecum on the mound. He gave up three runs in a second inning that featured two soft singles and yielded four runs total, but that was way too many against Lincecum.

ARI: RHP Max Scherzer (9-9, 4.05 ERA)
Scherzer was on track to win his 10th game last time out against the Brewers, but the bullpen could not come through for him. The right-hander allowed one run on three hits over six innings and left with a 2-1 lead. The Brewers scored four runs against the bullpen in the seventh and went on to win, 5-3. Scherzer did not have his best slider, but did have a better feel for his changeup as the game went along. Not getting a lot of first-pitch strikes caused Scherzer's pitch count to rise early and prevented him from pitching deeper into the game.

Rockies right-handers Aaron Cook, currently on the disabled list because of right shoulder soreness that he suffered in August, and Jose Contreras, who suffered a right quadriceps injury in his last start, will participate in a simulated game Saturday at Chase Field. Cook, who is throwing without pain, is closer to a return than Contreras, who can't run well enough to cover bases and make fielding plays. The next available start, Rockies manager Jim Tracy said, is Thursday against the Padres. ... Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has hit safely in five of his past six games. Tulowitzki has homered in four of his past six games. ... Catcher Yorvit Torrealba has six RBIs through seven games of the current road trip.

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•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

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Up next
• Sunday: Rockies (Ubaldo Jimenez, 13-11, 3.55) at D-backs (Dan Haren, 14-8, 2.79), 2:10 p.m. MT
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Rockies (TBD) vs. Padres (Edward Mujica, 3-4, 3.36), 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.