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Outstanding Pitching Matchup Opens Dodgers Series In Colorado

(Sports Network) - A pair of NL West foes trying to keep their postseason hopes intact collide tonight in the Rocky Mountains, where the Colorado Rockies begin a three-game series versus the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field.

Colorado has won four straight and completed a three-game sweep of the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves with a 12-10 victory Wednesday in Denver. Seth Smith homered and finished with two RBI, while Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez each provided two RBI for the Rockies, who erased a nine-run deficit in the win and are now four games off the lead in the NL Wild Card race.

Todd Helton recorded three hits and knocked in a run during Colorado's four- run eighth inning. Matt Belisle threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief for the win and starter Esmil Rogers lasted only 1 2/3 frames, giving up seven runs and eight hits with three strikeouts in the no-decision.

"We're definitely going to keep our heads up and battle all the way," Helton said. "We know we're still in it, and we know we're never out of it."

The Rockies have a good chance at staying within striking distance of a playoff spot with Ubaldo Jimenez set to take the hill Friday. Jimenez is tied with CC Sabathia (Yankees) and Adam Wainwright (Cardinals) for the major league lead in wins with 17, but was denied his 18th victory of the season last Saturday in a 3-1 loss to the lowly Diamondbacks.

Jimenez allowed three runs in six innings at Arizona. He has lost two of his last three starts and is only 2-3 with a 4.04 earned run average in his last seven outings.

The hard-throwing righty is 17-4 with a 2.66 ERA in 25 starts this season and is 5-4 in 13 career games (12 starts) against the Dodgers.

Los Angeles is right behind Colorado in the Wild Card standings at five games off the pace and just swept the Brewers in three games at Miller Park.

In Thursday's 7-1 victory over Milwaukee in the series finale, Casey Blake homered and Scott Podsednik finished 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored for the Dodgers, who got three hits from Brad Ausmus in the win.

Carlos Monasterios started for Los Angeles and yielded one run in 4 1/3 innings for the no-decision. Ronald Belisario got the final out in the fifth for the win.

"I wish Carlos (Monasterios) could have gotten through the fifth inning and pitched to get the win," said Ausmus. "He deserved it. But the others picked him up and we won the game, which is most important."

Slugger Manny Ramirez was reportedly placed on waivers this week and the Dodgers are still waiting to see what will happen with the left fielder. He did not play in Thursday's series finale in Brew City.

Clayton Kershaw will take the mound Friday amid all the distractions with Ramirez and is 11-8 with a 3.07 ERA in 26 starts this season. Kershaw, though, has dropped three of his last five starts and allowed three runs through seven innings of a 5-2 loss versus Cincinnati on Sunday.

Kershaw, a lefty, was coming off seven shutout innings in a win over Colorado and is 5-3 in 11 career starts against the Rockies.

Los Angeles has won six of nine meetings with Colorado this season and 20 of the last 27 contests in this series.