PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Jeff Francis helped pitch the Colorado staff into the franchise's record book.
His gem just wasn't enough for a win.
Francis tossed 5 2-3 scoreless innings only to earn a tough-luck no-decision when the offense again failed to deliver the big hit. Nate Schierholtz hit an RBI single in the ninth inning to lift the Philadelphia Phillies to a 3-2 victory over the Rockies on Friday night.
The Rockies set a team record with 36 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, a streak that ended when the Phillies scored twice in the seventh. The Rockies also tied a club record for scoreless innings in relief (20) until Carlos Torres gave up two runs in the seventh.
Those pitching lines seem like they should belong to a staff in the pennant race.
Instead, the Rockies lost their third straight game, the previous two by 1-0 scores in Atlanta.
In both losses to Atlanta, the only run was unearned - the first time a team has won consecutive games that way in more than 28 years.
``You can't fault our pitching, I can tell you that,' Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. ``(It's) phenomenal in relation to where we've been in the earlier part of the season.'
Staked to a 2-0 lead in the first, Francis had one of his best outings of the season. He struck out a season-high seven, his most in a game since July 20, 2010.
Francis escaped a huge jam in the first when he got Domonic Brown swinging at a curve in the dirt for strike three to leave the bases loaded.
The Rockies had only five hits after the first and failed to score again.
``There's no secret how well we can hit as a team,' Francis said. ``That's not something that's going to continue what we've done the last three or four games. As long as we keep throwing the ball, keep us in the game, these guys are going to bust out.'
Francis looked like the ace who won 17 games in 2007 and baffled the Phillies in Game 1 of the NLDS. The soft-tossing lefty beat Cole Hamels in that game, spoiling Philadelphia's return to the postseason after a 14-year absence. Francis allowed two runs and four hits in six innings, striking out eight in a 4-2 win at Citizens Bank Park. The Rockies swept the Phillies en route to reaching the World Series.
Since that time, Francis underwent shoulder surgery that sidelined him for all of 2009, spent last season with Kansas City and started this season in the minors for Cincinnati.
``You're not going to get them all, but if we could have pushed one more run across, I personally feel we're going to win the game,' Tracy said.
Jimmy Rollins walked off Will Harris (1-1) to start the bottom of the ninth. Rollins advanced to second on Juan Pierre's sacrifice. After Chase Utley was intentionally walked, both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Schierholtz then hit a sharp grounder to right field past a drawn-in infield.
Pinch-hitter Laynce Nix hit a tying, two-run double in the seventh, and the Phillies won for the 10th time in 14 games.
Jonathan Papelbon (4-6) tossed a scoreless ninth to earn the win.
Cliff Lee didn't get much run support again and failed to win his third straight start. He allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings, striking out seven.
The Phillies have scored three runs or fewer in 15 of Lee's 25 starts.
The Rockies touched him for two in the first.
Josh Rutledge hit a foul pop down the right-field line, but Utley overran it and the ball fell behind him. Rutledge then ripped a single just over Rollins. Carlos Gonzalez followed with a double to left-center to score Rutledge. Wilin Rosario's RBI single made it 2-0.
``We have pitched winning baseball,' Tracy said. ``You can't ask them to do more than that. We need to do more offensively in some run-producing situations.'
Notes: The Phillies activated All-Star C Carlos Ruiz from the DL. Ruiz has been sidelined since Aug. 3 because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. ... Philadelphia placed 3B Placido Polanco on the DL with lower back inflammation. His season is likely over. ... Francis has more wins (5) than Lee (4), even though he didn't make his first start until June 9. Francis made his 200th career appearance, all but one as a starter. ... Hamels (14-6) tries for his career high-tying 15th win on Saturday against Colorado's Tyler Chatwood (4-4).
The Associated Press News Service
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