Francis was the Rockies ace in 2007 winning 17 games, but he sat out last year after having surgery on his left shoulder. After starting the season on the disabled list and making a couple of minor league rehab starts, Francis appears back to his 2007 form.He combined with three relievers on a six-hitter and Troy Tulowitzki homered to help the Colorado Rockies beat the Kansas City Royals 3-0 on Saturday.Francis held the Royals to five hits over 6 1/3 innings while walking two and striking out three. Francis (1-0) has given up just one run and 12 hits in 13 1/3 innings since coming off the disabled list."What a boost for our club to have him back to go along with Ubaldo," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "What I've been extremely encouraged by is where his velocity is sitting right now. His fastball has life in the hitting area, which makes his change up and curveball that much more effective."Francis was 0-1 with a 5.64 ERA in spring training, so the Rockies opted to keep him in extended spring to build up his shoulder when the season opened."What I've seen in these two starts here, we never even got a glimpse of this over the course of six weeks in Tucson," Tracy said. "We never saw this type of velocity. We didn't see the ball coming out of his hand the way it's coming out right now."Tulowitzki broke up a scoreless pitching duel with a two-out sixth inning home run on the first pitch from right-hander Kyle Davies (3-3). He gave up one run and five hits in six innings. Davies struck out six and for the first time in nine starts this season did not walk a batter."You give up one run in six innings and lose but, you know Francis is a good pitcher," Davies said. "He fooled us every which way possible. His curveball was one of the better curveballs in the league today. It was pretty much breaking about five or six feet. Tip your hat to the guy. He pitched a good ballgame."Left-hander Dusty Hughes replaced Davies to start the seventh and gave up two runs on three hits without retiring a batter. Seth Smith led off the inning with a double and scored on Miguel Olivo's triple. Ian Stewart singled home Olivo.The Royals threatened in the seventh when David DeJesus doubled and stopped at third on Jose Guillen's single, which finished Francis. Joe Beimel retired Alberto Callaspo on a foul pop up to Olivo. Matt Belisle, the third Rockies pitcher of the inning, got Yuniesky Betancourt to fly out to right to end an 11-pitch battle.Manuel Corpas worked the ninth for his third save in four opportunities to complete the Rockies' sixth shutout of the season.Francis said he feels he is throwing as good as he did in 2007."I feel like I'm throwing the ball as well as I can," Francis said. "I'm spotting my fastball well and throwing my off-speed pitch for strikes and for the most part keeping the hitters off balance. I like the way I'm throwing the ball right now."Francis was not feeling well when he took the mound."I'm not sick as a dog, but I've been sick all week," he said.The loss snapped the Royals' three-game winning streak, their longest of the season."Francis is a little more than pretty good," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He was real good. It was really impressive to watch him pitch."Royals reliever Robinson Tejeda pitched for the first time since May 13 and struck out the side in the eighth. He had been sidelined with a strained left calf.
Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez has a sore left wrist and was held out of the Colorado lineup.