The Colorado Rockies' offense has fluctuated during their winning streak, but solid pitching has been a constant.
Juan Nicasio looks to add another stellar outing to that list as Colorado seeks to complete a three-game sweep of the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.The Rockies (10-9) began their three-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory at San Diego on Thursday, had a season-best 18 hits in Friday's 12-1 win over the Phillies and won 3-1 again Saturday as Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer.Colorado has allowed one earned run and 13 hits during the streak after opening the season with a 4.70 ERA.Nicasio (2-0, 3.50 ERA) has pitched well in two of his three starts, most recently giving up two runs in six innings of a 3-2 win over the Padres on Tuesday. He threw 99 pitches and grinded through his final inning."The fact that he got through six was huge," manager Walt Weiss said. "We needed Juan to get through that sixth; that was critical. I was a little concerned at that point, but he settled in."Nicasio made both of his career starts against the Phillies last season, posting a 4.76 ERA without receiving a decision. He went 5 2/3 innings in each outing, with John Mayberry going 3 for 5 with three doubles off the right-hander.Nicasio may be facing the Phillies (7-10) at the right time, as they've totaled three runs in their last four games and have been outscored 25-9 while dropping four of five.Jimmy Rollins' RBI groundout in the eighth was all Philadelphia could muster Saturday."You're going to go through ruts in the season," Saturday's starter Kyle Kendrick said. "You want to get out of it as quick as you can. Hopefully tomorrow we can swing it and score some runs. Things can turn quick."The Phillies' 4.63 ERA is among the worst in the NL, and Roberto Hernandez will take the mound in this game looking to improve that mark.Hernandez (1-0, 3.86) gave up two runs and four hits in six innings Monday against Atlanta, but he walked six and threw 118 pitches in a 9-6 loss. He issued two free passes in 10 1/3 innings over his previous two starts.The right-hander lost his only start against Colorado while pitching with Cleveland on June 20, 2011, allowing seven runs in 4 2/3 innings of an 8-7 defeat. He has faced Morneau plenty from their time in the AL, with Morneau going 9 for 31 with three homers, two doubles and six walks.Michael Cuddyer is 11 for 49 against Hernandez, but they may not face off since he's missed the last two games with a sore left hamstring."He's still pretty sore," Weiss said. "We'll have to watch him closely the next few days here and see how he responds to treatment and go from there."The Rockies have won four straight meetings in Colorado after dropping 12 of the previous 14, including the 2009 division series.
Michael Cuddyer (.415), Troy Tulowitzki (.381), and Carlos Gonzalez (.357) have the first, fourth, and seventh-highest batting averages in at-bats to end in a changeup since last year. Roberto Hernandez has thrown the third-highest percentage of changeups among qualified pitchers since the start of last year (30 percent).