Rockies vow not to take last-place Astros lightly

Rockies vow not to take last-place Astros lightly

DENVER -- The next four games loom as opportunity for the Rockies, but that opportunity could be a trap.

The schedule calls for Interleague games at Houston on Monday and Tuesday, then games with the Astros at Coors Field on Wednesday and Thursday. The Astros enter the series at 14-36. Only the Marlins have fewer wins, with 13.

The Rockies, surprise contenders in the National League West, can't afford to assume victory.

"I've watched quite a few of Houston's games this year, and their record isn't good, but it seems to me they've lost a lot of close games," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "Plus, we're facing Bud Norris tomorrow, and if you look at his home numbers [3-1, 1.93 ERA in six starts], we've got our work cut out for us. Just because their record is what it is doesn't mean we can't take them lightly."

The Rockies fell out of a three-way tie for first place with the D-backs and Giants in the NL West with a 7-3 loss in San Francisco on Sunday, falling a game back, but just last season, they lost 98 games.

"We can't let anything go to our heads," Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez said. "We have to play those games with the same intensity that we're playing these three games [with the Giants]. We have to keep our momentum. We can't stop pushing the pedal.

"We've been working hard since Spring Training. Not a lot of people believed in us, nobody counted on the Rockies. It's been surprising for them, not surprising for us. Obviously, nobody gets an award for being in first place now, but it's always good to be around that area."

So the attitude from a couple of the star players is appropriate, and manager Walt Weiss plans to make sure the entire team feels that way.

"It's something I certainly will touch on," Weiss said. "This is still the big leagues, and you've got to respect whoever lines up against you. Houston might be struggling now, but if we don't go down there and play the game hard, play the game right, we'll go down there and get beat twice."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.