Worst tops first: Francis, Rockies deal Padres loss

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- These sure don't look like the Colorado

Normally awful away from Coors Field, the Rockies won again on
the road as rookie Jeff Francis threw 6 2-3 solid innings in a 4-3
win over San Diego on Friday night, leaving the NL West-leading
Padres limping along at one game under .500.

With the Padres at 63-64, this is the latest in a season a team
has led a division with a losing record. The Padres still have a
6½-game lead over Arizona, which lost to Philadelphia, and Los
Angeles, which lost to Houston.

The Rockies (50-78), who have won five of six, are 13½ games
back in baseball's weakest division.

The Rockies are 3-1 on a nine-game trip that started in Los
Angeles and will finish in San Francisco. They're 7-3 in their last
10 road games after losing 40 of their first 50 away from home.

"Anytime you can do it on the road, especially the way we've
been playing, it kind of relaxes us for the rest of the series,"
said third baseman Garrett Atkins, who made a nice backhanded grab
of Miguel Olivo's sharp one-hopper to start a double play in the

"We know we've had troubles on the road but we're looking
forward and trying to build on each win we get on the road and keep
it going for the future," Atkins said.

San Diego looked listless at the plate and in the field, helping
to spoil right-hander Adam Eaton's first start in more than two
months. Eaton (9-3) was activated earlier Friday following his
second stint on the disabled list due to a strained flexor tendon
in his right middle finger sustained on June 15 at Detroit.

The Padres committed three errors, including one by Eaton.

"Someone asked me how I felt and I said, 'Kind of like a spring
training game," Eaton said. "You're trying to analyze every
pitch. Things just aren't in that groove yet. Physically, I was
able to throw some pitches, but mechanically, I was off a little

Francis (12-9) gave up two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings.
He rebounded from his previous three starts, when he had a 12.46
ERA and failed to get out of the sixth inning, going 0-2 with one

Francis lost his first two starts against the Padres this year,
compiling a 10.80 ERA. He made his big league debut on Aug. 25,
2004, and two of his three wins last season came against the

San Diego's Damian Jackson hit a leadoff single in the first,
advanced on Eric Young's single and scored on Brian Giles'
sacrifice fly.

"I've had so many kind of bad first innings this year that it
seems to be the way it goes," Francis said. "Giving up one run in
the first inning didn't put me down at all. That's happened so many
times this year where I've come back and pitched well. I think
after the second inning I felt we were going to stay in that game
and have a shot to win."

Francis then shut down the Padres until the seventh, when he
walked Mark Loretta with one out, allowed Olivo's two-out single
and was chased by rookie Wilson Valdez's RBI double that pulled San
Diego to 4-2. With runners on second and third, Scott Dohmann came
on and struck out pinch-hitter Robert Fick.

The Padres closed to 4-3 in the eighth when Joe Randa hit a
one-out double off Mike DeJean and scored on Giles' two-out single.
Giles was stranded when Loretta popped up to shortstop.

Brian Fuentes pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 27 chances.
After getting Olivo to hit into a double play, Fuentes issued
consecutive walks to Valdez and pinch-hitter Ryan Klesko before
striking out Mark Sweeney.

The Rockies went ahead 2-1 in the third, when Francis drew a
leadoff walk followed by Cory Sullivan's double. Francis scored on
Luis Gonzalez's groundout and Sullivan scored on Todd Helton's

The Rockies scored two more in the fourth, one unearned because
of shortstop Valdez's fielding error on Sullivan's grounder. Eaton
again walked the leadoff batter, Dustan Mohr, and he scored on Omar
Quintanilla's single to left. Quintanilla scored on Gonzalez's
two-out single, which came one batter after Valdez's error.

Eaton lasted five innings, allowing four runs, three earned, and
six hits. He struck out four and walked three.

Game notes
The Padres committed two errors on Quintanilla's grounder
in the second and still managed to get him out. First baseman
Xavier Nady booted the grounder for the first error and Eaton
couldn't handle the throw while covering the bag for the second.
But Quintanilla took a hard step toward second and stopped, and was
tagged out by Loretta, the second baseman. ... The Padres have
committed eight errors in their last three games.