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COL@PHI: Francis hurls 5 2/3 scoreless against Phils

The last time the Giants lost a road series was July 6-8 in Pittsburgh. Since then, the Giants are 7-0-1 in road series and have posted a 20-7 record away from AT&T Park, the best road record in the National League since the All-Star break.

In Wednesday's series finale against the Rockies, the Giants will try to win yet another road series and extend their unbeaten streak in road series to nine for the first time since 2002-03. The Rockies, meanwhile, would like to win their first series of the season against the Giants.

Left-hander Jeff Francis will start for the Rockies. He is coming off one of his best starts of the season, throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings in a 3-2 loss at Philadelphia on Friday. Francis struck out a season-high seven batters but received only a no-decision when the Rockies' bullpen couldn't hold a 2-0 lead.

Still, Francis said he was happy with his start.

"Regardless of the season they're having, that's a pretty good team over there," Francis said. "I know that. For me to get through five and a bit without any damage, that was giving us a good chance to win."

The Giants will counter with right-hander Tim Lincecum, whose strange season continues. The two-time Cy Young winner struck out seven and allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings in the Giants' 5-2 victory against the Dodgers last Friday. But he also walked a career-high seven batters.

Manager Bruce Bochy said he was pleased with Lincecum's start, despite the walks.

"He wasn't missing [by] much," Bochy said. "You hate to see the walks; his pitch count got up there, but he just had a good look about him. Even though he was walking guys, there was no panic in him. He kept his poise out there and kept pitching."

Lincecum is 8-14 with a career-high 5.11 ERA, but remains on pace to strike out 200 batters for the fifth season in a row.

Giants: Bochy sticking with Sandoval in three-hole
Bochy said he intended to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the three-hole in the Giants' lineup as he tries to work through his slump. Sandoval is hitting just .222 since returning from the disabled list Aug. 13.

Sandoval went 0-for-4 in the Giants' 9-8 victory Tuesday and has not hit a home run in 142 at-bats. Overall, Sandoval is hitting .276 with a .423 slugging percentage. Bochy said some of Sandoval's problems this season have been mental.

"Pablo's a tough guy," Bochy said. "He wants to do something when he's up there. Sometimes you try a little too hard and start overswinging trying to hit it too far. He's got to shorten everything up -- including stride -- and keep his balance."

• With Francis, a left-hander, starting Wednesday for the Rockies and Xavier Nady still sidelined by a strained left hamstring, Bochy indicated Brandon Belt may start in left field for the Giants. Belt would replace the left-handed-hitting Gregor Blanco.

Bochy said the Giants are hoping to have Nady back for their weekend series against the D-backs, when they will face three left-handers.

Rockies: With Hernandez hurt, Tracy expresses faith in Rosario
Catcher Ramon Hernandez left Monday's 6-5 victory against the Giants with a left hamstring injury and was out of the lineup Tuesday. Rookie Wilin Rosario replaced Hernandez, though he has struggled defensively of late.

Rosario recently allowed five passed balls in two games and allowed wild pitches both Monday and Tuesday. Still, manager Jim Tracy said he had faith in Rosario going forward.

"He's making strides," Tracy said. "I'm a big fan of this kid. All I have to do is watch the effort that he gives every day, know that he wants to learn, know how I've sat here over the last three-plus years and taken some beatings because of Dexter Fowler, 'Why is he hitting left-handed?' and 'How much longer are you going to play Carlos Gonzalez?' Those windows take a little time. You have to have the patience and the courage to endure the lapses that are going to come along with it."

Worth noting
• Despite their careers overlapping for five of the last six years in the NL West, Lincecum and Francis have never faced each other.

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