COLORADO  –  As difficult as the Tigers outing against the Rockies was in the Friday night loss, Colorado has issues of their own. The downfall of Ubaldo Jimenez continues to hit new lows, but he could see better results as soon as Saturday night.

Again trying to turn his nightmarish season around, Jimenez will take the ball for the Colorado Rockies as they look to extend their success against AL opponents in the middle game of a weekend set with the visiting Detroit Tigers.

Through 12 starts last year, Jimenez was 11-1 with a 0.93 ERA and a .176 opponent batting average – numbers that led to an eventual start in the All-Star game. The numbers for Jimenez this year will keep him away from the Midsummer Classic – the right-hander is 1-7 with a 4.63 ERA, and opponents are hitting .245 against him.

Jimenez was tagged for a career-high three homers en route to seven runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 10-8 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday. Third baseman Ty Wigginton didn’t help, either, as a potential double-play ball off his glove helped set up James Loney’s grand slam in a five-run third.

“As a pitcher, every time that happens, you just want to go back and make pitches and try to pick your team up,” Jimenez said. “I tried to do everything within my means. It just didn’t happen.”

Jimenez’s downfall may not be entirely his fault. Colorado’s lineup has provided him with 23 runs of support this season after backing him with 55 over his first 12 starts in 2010.

He’s 0-2 with a 5.73 lifetime ERA against the Tigers, though he’s yet to face them at home.

Jimenez watched Colorado (34-35) provide struggling Jason Hammel with plenty of support Friday in a 13-6 series-opening win. The 13 runs equaled the Rockies’ output from their previous three games combined.

Chris Nelson hit his first major league home run during a six-run second inning, Carlos Gonzalez homered and knocked in four, and rookie Charlie Blackmon added four hits and two RBIs.

“Tonight, I got so much run support, I’m actually disappointed I gave back six,” said Hammel, who had been 0-5 over his previous eight starts.

Since 2006, the Rockies have gone 49-30 in interleague play for an NL-leading .620 winning percentage. They’re also looking to win four in a row for the first time following a season-best seven-game run in April that propelled the team to an 11-2 start.

Jhonny Peralta had a grand slam Friday for Detroit (38-32), which has dropped three of four interleague contests, but is in a virtual tie with Cleveland for the AL Central lead.

“We talk all the time about pitching aggressive here,” current Tigers and former Rockies manager Jim Leyland said of playing at Coors Field. “That’s what you’ve got to do. You can’t pitch on the defensive here, you get beat every time.”

The Tigers will send out a struggling pitcher of their own Saturday in Phil Coke (1-6, 3.69 ERA).

Though Coke hasn’t won in more than two months, he had a strong outing Monday against Tampa Bay. The left-hander gave up four hits and fanned three in 6 1-3 scoreless innings of the Tigers’ 2-1 win in 12.

Coke is 0-4 with a 4.18 ERA in nine starts since beating Oakland on April 14, receiving either one run of support or none in six of those games.

Coke, who is making his first start against any NL club, is 2-0 with a 0.55 ERA in 17 interleague relief appearances.
Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.


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