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Nationals vs. Rockies preview: Jeff Francis must rebound from last outing

With Roy Oswalt looming on the horizon, Jeff Francis could be pitching for his job today against the Nationals.


DENVER -- Jeff Francis is on the hill today for the Colorado Rockies in their rubber match against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field. Francis hopes to turn around a streak of mediocre outings, both from himself as well as the Rockies' rotation in general.

"It's disappointing anytime you don't help your team win," said Francis of his last start, a 4-2 loss against the San Diego Padres on Saturday.

Ironically enough, Francis gave the Rockies just as much of a chance to win as any of the team's other starters during this last turn in the rotation. Jhoulys Chacin is the only Rockies starter to get a win over the past week, and that's because the team's bats finally woke up after falling in a 2-0 hole after four innings.

Francis will have to be more efficient today than he has been for the better part of this season to have a shot at a win; the veteran southpaw has averaged fewer than five innings per start and has made it through six innings just twice. Motivation shouldn't be an issue; Francis could be pitching for his spot in the rotation with Roy Oswalt nearing the end of his minor-league tune-up.

After dropping the second game of the series on Wednesday, the Rockies will field a competitive getaway day (for the Nats, at least) lineup that includes only one backup, first baseman Jordan Pacheco.

The Rox will face Nationals starter Ross Detwiler, who will be on the mound for the first time since May 15. Detwiler's ability to limit walks and induce a decent amount of groundballs has helped him post a 2.76 ERA through eight starts despite striking out just 23 batters in 45.2 innings and allowing 11 hits per nine.

The GameThread, which includes the lineups for both teams, will be up shortly.