DENVER (AP) -- This time, hurting his country's baseball team
wasn't such a bad feeling for Jeff Francis.
The left-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of
Colorado's 5-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday night. It
was a stark contrast to the Vancouver native's forgettable
performance in the World Baseball Classic, when he was shelled in
Canada's 9-1 loss to Mexico back in March.
"I tried my best to treat it just like it was any other start,
but it was a lot of fun," said Francis, who grew up rooting for
the likes of former Toronto standouts Joe Carter and Dave Stieb.
Francis (3-3) gave up one earned run and four hits in six-plus
innings. He benefited from a defense that produced four spectacular
Nobody came close to getting a hit off Francis until Aaron Hill
led off the sixth with a clean blooper to left-center. The Blue
Jays mustered three more hits in the inning but only managed one
run as the Rockies threw out two runners at the plate to preserve a
"They were enormous," Francis said of the throws to home. "I
may have shut them down for five innings, but without those two
plays, that game is completely different."
Francis was done after walking the first two batters he faced in
the seventh, but his defense again saved him.
Shea Hillenbrand hit a sharp grounder to third off reliever
David Cortes but Garrett Atkins made a diving stop and threw out
the runner at second. Hillenbrand was running all the way when
Bengie Molina lined out to a leaping Clint Barmes at shortstop to
start an inning-ending double play.
Right-hander Ty Taubenheim (0-1) displayed an equal knack for
getting into and out of trouble in his much-anticipated major
league debut. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound right-hander allowed a home
run to the second batter he faced, walked his counterpart in the
second and plunked two batters in the third.
All the Rockies had to show for it was one run, on Atkins' solo
homer, his second in two nights.
"There were definitely some nerves out there, but not to the
point where I was like, 'What am I doing?' Just normal nerves,"
Taubenheim said. "The result wasn't what I wanted. I look back at
my walks, a lot of them were on 3-2 pitches and secondary pitches
that I felt comfortable with throwing there. It's not like I was
walking guys on four straight pitches. I was battling."
His manager thought so, too.
"I thought he pitched great," John Gibbons said. "He kind of
had a dDejGa vu with Atkins hitting the homer right out of the chute,
but Ty showed me he could pitch. He should feel good about it, he
just didn't get a win."
The Rockies finally got to Taubenheim in the fifth when Brad
Hawpe's two-run triple made it 3-0.
Taubenheim called it a night after allowing three earned runs
and five hits in five innings. He walked three and plunked two
more, an uncharacteristically wild night for a pitcher who hadn't
walked more than two batters in any of his eight starts at Triple-A
Syracuse, where he had a sparkling 1.26 ERA.
After Hill broke up the no-hitter, John McDonald singled to
right and Eric Hinske, pinch hitting for Taubenheim, doubled down
the right-field line, scoring Hill. McDonald, however was thrown
out by Barmes, who caught Hawpe's throw from right, spun and nailed
the runner in a close play at the plate.
"I have no idea if McDonald was being waved around on that play
at the plate, and I don't care," Gibbons said. "We have the best
third-base coach in the league (in Brian Butterfield), and they
just made a good play. We basically got our (behinds) kicked
tonight. They pitched better than us, and they showed what good
defense can do."
The Rockies will try for their fourth-ever sweep of an AL
club Sunday. ... The Rockies' 24-19 start is the second best in
franchise history and a turnaround from last year, when they were
13-30 at this point.