Francis K's career-high 10, hurts Dodgers' wild-card chances

" Figure this: Francis' 10 strikeouts were the most by a Colorado hurler since Jason Jennings whiffed 10 Giants on Aug. 28, 2003, a span of 661 games.

" False start: Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley took the loss despite allowing just two earned runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings.

" Unsung hero: Pinch-hitter Joe Koshansky tacked on an insurance run for Colorado with an RBI double in the seventh. It was Koshansky's first major league hit.

" Hunt for October: The Dodgers fell 3 games behind the Padres in the NL wild-card chase while the Rockies moved within 4.

-- ESPN.com news services

Rockies 3, Dodgers 1

DENVER (AP) -- Accolades can wait for Jeff Francis.

The Colorado left-hander rebounded from a rare bad outing to lead the Rockies past the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 in the first game of a double-header Tuesday.

So centered on keeping the Rockies' slim playoff hopes alive, Francis didn't realize until afterward that he'd struck out a career-high 10 batters or that he had set a franchise record for wins by a lefty.

Francis (16-8) surpassed Shawn Estes, who had 15 in 2004, and put himself just one win shy of the franchise record set by Kevin Ritz in 1996 and tied by Pedro Astacio in 1999.

"When the season is over you can look back at things like that and be proud of them," Francis said. "But I think there's something bigger we're working toward right now."

The teams played a split doubleheader to make up for a rainout on July 27 at Coors Field, and both teams looked at it as crucial to their hopes of catching San Diego in the NL wild-card chase. The Dodgers fell 3 games behind the Padres while the Rockies moved within 4.

Francis allowed one run on six hits and stranded eight runners in 6 2/3 innings. His 10 strikeouts were the most by a Rockies pitcher since Jason Jennings fanned 10 Giants on Aug. 28, 2003, a span of 661 games.

"Great time to pitch a great game," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "Very resilient, pitched through a lot of traffic early, left seven men on base in the first four innings, topped it off with 10 strikeouts. Nice bounce-back outing."

Coming off his worst performance of the year Thursday at Philadelphia, where he allowed eight runs on eight hits with four walks in less than four innings, Francis looked more like himself at Coors Field.

"Results-wise, there's a lot of difference, but I don't think the way I pitched there's a lot of difference," Francis said. "Sometimes I try to do too much with certain pitches and it's in the wrong spot where they do a lot of damage. Today, you get some big outs in some spots and you get on a roll."

He outpitched Chad Billingsley (11-5), who lost despite allowing just two earned runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings. In his last five starts, Billingsley is 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA but fell to 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA against Colorado.

"I've always had trouble with the Rockies," he said. "They have one of the better lineups top to bottom."

Cory Sullivan doubled twice -- into each corner -- and scored the Rockies' first two runs. Matt Holliday drove him home in the fourth with a single and Todd Helton drove him home with a single in the sixth off reliever Mark Hendrickson.

"I broke his bat with a curve ball and he doubled just inside the line in left. I jammed him with a fastball and he muscled it past first base," Billingsley said. "They were well placed. There's nothing you can do about hits like that."

The only hitter to solve Francis was Olmedo Saenz, whose pinch-hit homer in the seventh cut Colorado's lead to 2-1.

"Francis' changeup was outstanding today. That was the difference in the game," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "We had our chances. We had a lot of chances. We never cashed in until the pinch-hit home run."

The bullpen secured Francis' franchise record when Brian Fuentes pitched a perfect eighth and Manny Corpas tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for his 15th save in as many chances since becoming Colorado's closer.

In the bottom half of the seventh, pinch-hitter Joe Koshansky, the Rockies' top slugging prospect, hit an RBI double off Scott Proctor for his first major league hit, one that smacked the wall so hard that by the time right fielder Matt Kemp tracked it down, he was nearly to the infield dirt.

"I barely remember running the bases," said Koshansky, who would have had a standup triple had he picked up coach Mike Gallego's sign sooner.

Game notes
Dodgers SS Rafael Furcal left the opener in the sixth inning with tightness in his lower back. ... RHP Esteban Loaiza will start for L.A. on Friday night at Arizona.