Returning home to hitter-friendly Coors Field seemed to be just what the Colorado Rockies needed to spark their punchless offense.
The Rockies look to build on their latest victory and hand the Pittsburgh Pirates their fifth straight road loss when the struggling teams continue a four-game series Friday.After winning the NL pennant a year ago, Colorado (40-57) has been one of baseball's most disappointing teams this season. The Rockies appeared to hit rock bottom last week, entering the All-Star break on a four-game road losing streak while scoring two runs and batting .129 (15-for-116) in those contests.Colorado, though, ended that skid Thursday in its first game after the break, collecting nine hits in a 5-3 win over the Pirates (44-51). The Rockies improved to 6-1 at Coors Field this month, scoring 58 runs and batting .304 in those games.Chris Iannetta, who hit a broken-bat homer and drove in three runs Thursday, has been a big part of Colorado's home success lately. He has homered in each of his last three games at Coors, driving in nine runs in those contests."This year I'm getting the same pitches and I'm able to barrel them up," Iannetta said.Third baseman Garret Atkins also got back on track Thursday, going 2-for-4 with an RBI double. Atkins was hitless in 13 at-bats during the losing streak, but is batting .438 (14-for-32) with two home runs and nine RBIs in seven home games this month.Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has lost four straight road games, and eight of its last 10 away from PNC Park. The Pirates have not dropped five in a row on the road since a season-high six-game skid from April 15-29.Pitching on the road has been a big problem for Pittsburgh's Ian Snell (3-7, 5.92 ERA), who is 0-4 with a 11.35 ERA in his last five starts away from home.After he ranked 13th in the NL in ERA (3.73) and seventh in strikeouts (177) last season, Snell was expected to be a key contributor this season, but the right-hander has struggled mightily.Pittsburgh's opening day starter, Snell has just one win in his last 15 starts and already has issued 55 walks -- 13 fewer than last season. On Sunday, he allowed four runs and five hits in five innings of an 11-6 loss to St. Louis, but was not a factor in the decision.Despite his struggles, Pirates manager John Russell believes Snell's showing improvement."He's definitely on the right track," Russell told the team's official Web site. "Each start you can see what he's doing, and you just know he's going to get better."In two career starts versus Colorado, Snell is 1-1 with a 5.11 ERA.The Rockies counter with veteran Glendon Rusch (2-3, 6.25), who makes his third start of the season.Rusch hasn't started since giving up one run and five hits in six innings of an 8-3 victory over Milwaukee on July 9, his first win since defeating Arizona on April 26 with San Diego.Rusch, who did not pitch in the majors in 2007, has not faced the Pirates since allowing three runs and five hits in six innings of a 7-3 win for the Chicago Cubs on April 16, 2006.The left-hander is 2-7 with a 4.96 ERA in 15 career starts versus Pittsburgh.