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Kuroda And Jimenez Face Off In Dodgers-Rockies Opener

(Sports Network) - If the Colorado Rockies clinch a playoff spot, they owe most of the credit to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Two of the hottest hitters in the major leagues will try to push the club closer to that goal tonight in the opener of a three-game road series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Tulowitzki has been on a tear the last two weeks, batting .386 with 11 home runs and 27 RBI in his past 14 contests. The Rockies are 11-3 over that stretch. Gonzalez leads the National League with a .341 batting average and finished with two hits and two RBI in Wednesday's 9-6 win over San Diego to salvage the finale of a three-game series.

Colorado also received another impressive performance from Tulowitzki, who homered twice and drove in seven runs. Tulowitzki, Jonathan Herrera and Jay Payton all finished with three hits for the Rockies, who sit 2 1/2 games behind San Francisco for the NL West lead. They're also that many games back of Atlanta in the Wild Card race, while San Diego is a half-game off the lead in both.

"It feels great," Tulowitzki said of Wednesday's performance. "It feels even better when your team is coming down the stretch run and you're helping out."

Jorge De La Rosa earned the win over the Padres, despite permitting five runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings. Huston Street later pitched the ninth for his 19th save of the season.

Rox ace Ubaldo Jimenez tries to become the third pitcher in the majors with 19 wins when he takes the mound Friday night in Hollywood. Jimenez is 18-6 with a 2.75 earned run average in 29 starts this season and 1-0 in his last two chances since dropping four straight decisions. Jimenez did not factor in the outcome of last Saturday's 2-1 win over Arizona, but fired six innings of one- run ball. He also struck out eight for the second straight outing.

Jimenez, who is trying to match CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay with 19 wins, lost to the Dodgers the last time he faced them on August 27 at Coors Field. He was reached for three runs and nine hits over seven innings in a 6-2 loss, falling to 5-5 with a 5.23 ERA in 14 career games (13 starts) in this series.

Los Angeles lost the last two portions of a three-game road series to the San Francisco Giants and suffered an embarrassing 10-2 loss on Thursday. Dodgers starter Ted Lilly lasted just 3 1/3 innings and surrendered six runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings, while Jeff Weaver and Jon Link both gave up two runs in relief.

"They're on a roll right now," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of the Giants. "They're swinging the bats really well. They're pitching well."

Russ Mitchell homered to highlight the Dodgers' offense and Rafael Furcal scored in the first inning on a throwing error. Los Angeles went 3-7 on a 10- game road trip and will begin a six-game residency versus the Rockies and Padres tonight.

Slated to handle pitching duties tonight for Los Angeles will be Hiroki Kuroda, who is 10-12 in 28 starts this season to go along with a 3.32 ERA. Kuroda did not record a decision his previous time out in a 4-2 Dodgers' win at Houston last Friday, as he held the hosts to a run and four hits in six innings.

Kuroda, a right-hander, threw seven innings of two-run ball in a no-decision versus Colorado on August 18 and is 0-3 with a 6.55 earned run average through six career meetings -- all starts -- with the