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Jimenez feels no pressure for Game 4

Jimenez feels no pressure for Game 4

DENVER -- For the second time in six days, Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez will get a crack at the Phillies in the NLDS, which is a welcomed opportunity for him given how his start in Game 1 began and ended for him.

The Rockies desperately need better results from Jimenez in Game 4 of the series Monday at 4:07 p.m. MT Coors Field, as they trail, 2-1, in the best-of-five series and are facing elimination.

The Phillies held off the Rockies, 6-5, in Game 3 on Sunday at Coors Field, setting up the ultimate win-or-else scenario for Colorado on Monday.

Tale of the Tape: Game 3 STARTERS
2009 Regular Season
Overall 33 GS, 15-12, 3.47 ERA, 85 BB, 198 K
Overall 34 GS, 14-13, 3.39 ERA, 43 BB, 187 K
Key stat 6 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 5 SO, no decision vs. PHI in '07 NLDS
Key stat 8.80 K/BB in second half, 2.82 in first half
Postseason
Career 0-2, 3.86 ERA in four starts, 17 strikeouts in 21 innings
Career 1-0, 1.00 ERA in one start -- fell one out shy of shutout in Game 1.
At Coors Field
2009 8-5, 3.34 ERA in 15 starts
Career 18-12, 3.41 ERA in 41 games (40 starts)
2009 NR
Career NR
Against this opponent
2009 0-1, 9.00 in one start Career 0-2, 8.59 in three games
2009 2-0, 1.13 in two starts (incl. Game 1)
Career2-0, 1.13 in two starts
Loves to face Chase Utley, 1-3, 2 strikeouts Hates to face Ryan Howard, 1-3, 2B, RBI in Game 1
Loves to face Garrett Atkins 1-for-7, 3Ks Hates to face Troy Tulowitzki 3-for-7, 2B, RBI
Game breakdown
Why he'll win Pitched well at Coors and, until fifth inning in Game 1, had Phils in knots
Why he'll win Past dominance agaisnt Rockies provides him all the confidence
Pitcher beware A different pitcher from stretch. Command wobbled as he fell behind
Pitcher beware The breaking ball can prove frustrating in the thin Rocky Mountain air
Bottom line
Get ahead, fastball command
Bottom line Must be one to make the proper adjustments

What the Rockies need most is for Jimenez to pitch like he did in the first four innings of Game 1 against the Phillies and not like he did in the next two innings.

Jimenez opened the NLDS by breezing through the Phillies' vaunted lineup and in their cozy ballpark, when he needed 46 pitches to get through four shutout innings with three hits allowed.

But in the fifth inning, Jimenez started to crack, or, more aptly, his command did as he started to fall behind hitters. By the sixth inning, after allowing three successive hits to open the inning, he was gone, having allowed five runs.

If any of this sounds the least bit disconcerting, it's not for Jimenez, who on Sunday said he didn't feel any pressure at all to perform better in such a critical game for the Rockies.

"I'm not concerned at all," Jimenez said. "It's something mechanical, probably. Like in the first four innings, I was able to get ahead every time, and then when I got to the fifth and sixth inning, I lost my control.

"I was falling behind in the count, and then I had to throw my fastball right in the middle, use my breaking ball. They took advantage of it."

Jimenez threw 10 pitches in each of the first two innings. The Phillies then pushed him to 12 pitches in the third inning and saw a grand total of 14 more in the fourth, which ended when slugger Ryan Howard, who singled with two outs, was caught stealing.

The ledger for the 25-year-old hurler to that point was impressive: four innings, four strikeouts, no walks and not once during the blissful stretch did Jimenez allow the leadoff batter to reach base.

The game got away from Jimenez quickly.

It started with a leadoff walk to Jayson Werth in the fifth inning. Raul Ibanez went down and turned on a 3-1 changeup, lining it past the glove of Todd Helton at first base and into the corner for an RBI double.

One out later, and after Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz worked him for eight pitches in the at-bat, Jimenez allowed an RBI single on a slider. The ball skipped past Colorado right fielder Brad Hawpe, but Ibanez would have scored anyway.

Jimenez would get out of the inning trailing, 2-0. He then allowed three hits to start the sixth inning, including an RBI double to Howard and an RBI triple to Werth, the last batter he would face.

On Sunday, Jimenez admitted to making a few mechanical fixes that he hopes will help with his command issues. He also said that he won't take any future success, especially early on in a game, for granted.

"The first thing is, never take anything for granted, just try to be the same every time," Jimenez said. "Like I did in the first four innings. ... I was so good and then suddenly I just lost everything.

"Just trying to stay focused the whole game and just keep going and challenge hitters."

Colorado manager Jim Tracy was asked on Sunday if he considered bringing back Aaron Cook, the winning pitcher in Game 2 on Thursday, on short rest.

"The fact that Aaron Cook had to leave us for a period of time with a shoulder issue, cold weather, shoulder issue, bringing him back on short rest, that's, in my mind, not a very wise decision to make," Tracy said.

"You have got an opportunity with Jimenez and Cook, if we're forced to a fifth game, to bring both back on their normal rest. I think that's the most feasible way to go about it."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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