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COL@MIL: Nicasio tosses six solid innings to earn win

The Rockies swept only four series last year. On Sunday, they will have a chance to match that number just three weeks into the season.

Still undefeated at home this year and coming off sweeps of the Padres and Mets, Colorado will try to do the same to the D-backs on Sunday as it puts its longest winning streak (eight games) since 2010 on the line when it sends Juan Nicasio to the mound at Coors Field.

In three starts, Nicasio has nine walks and nine strikeouts in 16 innings. He has held left-handers to a .074 batting average (2-for-27), but right-handers are batting .444 (16-for-36) against him. In his last outing against the Mets, Nicasio allowed four runs in five innings, but his offense picked up the slack as the Rockies won, 8-4.

"It wasn't his sharpest game, but he kept us in the game and gave us a shot," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said after Nicasio's last start.

The last time the 26-year-old Nicasio faced the D-backs -- on May 17 -- he gave up just one run on two hits, but left the game after 4 2/3 innings due to a high pitch count.

Trying to snap the Rockies' winning streak for the D-backs will be right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who has been a disappointment to his new club so far this year. The right-hander has allowed 13 earned runs in just 15 2/3 innings.

McCarthy lasted four innings in his last start against the Yankees, giving up three runs -- all on a Robinson Cano homer.

"I was just completely out of sync and just kind of not able to do a whole lot," McCarthy said after the game. "I felt like I was at least still battling, which is kind of good. I just couldn't get right from the 'pen all the way through. Even after evaluating, I don't know what it is, mechanically, that I was looking for. Just everything was so off."

Rockies: Helton misses Saturday's game with forearm strain
Todd Helton has a left forearm strain and didn't play Saturday. He suffered the injury on a swing Tuesday against the Mets in the first game of a doubleheader.

Helton said he thought the pain would "just go away with a couple days' rest," but that wasn't the case.

"It's feeling pretty good right now," Helton said. "I've never done anything like it. I could play right now if I had to, I guess."

Helton is batting .268 with a homer and 10 RBIs this season.

D-backs: Parra, Montero given breather, but come off bench
Gerardo Parra missed his first inning of play on Saturday since Spring Training as manager Kirk Gibson finally found a day to rest him.

"He's been going hard, and we've got 16 [games] in a row again, so kind of going through the lineup and try to get guys off," Gibson said. [Martin] Prado's been another guy. I don't know if it's going to come any time soon. His versatility's very important to the team right now."

Parra was forced into action on Saturday, replacing Cody Ross in right field after Ross was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the seventh.

Miguel Montero, who had played in every game (not all starts) entering Saturday, was also given the day off in favor of Wil Nieves. Montero did, however, pinch-hit in the ninth inning, delivering an RBI groundout. Shortstop Cliff Pennington and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt have started every game so far.

"Altitude, travel, playing a lot of games in a row, you have to be sensitive to what's going on there," Gibson said of the decision to give Montero a break. "He got pounded the other day with a foul tip in the middle of his legs -- really black. He had about three or four of them there in that Yankee game."

Worth noting
• The D-backs have won all five of their series finales this season.

• Eric Chavez hit his second career pinch-hit home run on Saturday in the eighth inning off Rockies relief pitcher Edgmer Escalona. His first was June 23 against the Mets when he was with the Yankees.

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