Troy Tulowitzki has been the catalyst for a Colorado Rockies offense that ranks as one of the best in baseball, but the club's pitching staff hasn't been able to keep pace during what's turning out to be a rather disappointing season.
Tulowitzki could return from a two-game absence Sunday as rookie Yohan Flande makes his third major league start in this finale of a four-game home set against the Los Angeles Dodgers.The Rockies (37-51) lead the majors with a .282 average and have scored the most runs in the NL. Tulowitzki's .350 average is the best in baseball while his 18 homers are second in the NL, but tightness in his groin kept him out of the lineup Friday and again in Saturday's 8-7 win that ended Colorado's five-game losing streak.He's hoping to be on the field for this contest as the Rockies seek back-to-back victories for the first time since a five-game winning streak from June 11-15."What he's feeling right now is legitimate enough that he wasn't going to be able to play through it regardless," manager Walt Weiss told MLB's official website. "It's possible he could be in there (Sunday)."The Rockies have won only three times in their last 19 contests, with starter Jorge De La Rosa picking up each victory. Their pitching staff is last in the majors with a 5.02 ERA, and the bullpen nearly let a six-run lead slip away Saturday."Luckily for us, we were able to hang on there," said Drew Stubbs, who hit a two-run homer. "Regardless if it's 8-7 or 8-2, a win's a win."Flande (0-1, 6.10 ERA) will take the mound in this contest after mostly impressing Weiss in his first two starts. The left-hander gave up four runs in five innings of Colorado's 9-6 loss to St. Louis in his debut June 25, then allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings of Monday's 7-3 loss to Washington."He did his job, threw the ball well," Weiss said. "He's been very competitive both times out."Flande will oppose Josh Beckett, who is coming off one of his worst starts of the season after an impressive stretch.Beckett (5-5, 2.37) went 3-3 with a 1.15 ERA in seven-start stretch that began with his no-hitter against Philadelphia on May 25 before giving up a season-worst five runs in five innings of Tuesday's 10-3 loss to Cleveland.He said he was dealing with some general soreness between his last two starts."I'm in counts where I think it's the right pitch, but I'm just not executing the way I need to execute," Beckett said.Beckett had a solid outing against the Rockies on April 25, allowing two runs on homers from Tulowitzki and Corey Dickerson over eight innings of the Dodgers' 5-4, 11-inning defeat.The right-hander will look to help the first-place Dodgers (50-40) take three of four in the series after having their six-game winning streak against the Rockies snapped.Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez each went 2 for 5, but the rest of Los Angeles' starting lineup went 2 for 21. Puig and Ramirez each had run-scoring hits in a five-run seventh, but the Dodgers fell for only the second time in their last eight road games.Ramirez is hitting .364 in his last 14 against Colorado, while Tulowitzki is batting just .206 in his last 18 versus the Dodgers.