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ARI@COL: Nicasio fans six, holds D-backs to one run

Wednesday afternoon's deciding game of a set of three serves as a test for Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio, who passed his last one, and White Sox rookie righty Erik Johnson, who hasn't had many of them.

After the Rockies dropped three of four in Miami, Nicasio made the home opener a celebratory occasion by hold the D-backs to four hits and one run in seven innings of a 12-2 victory on Friday afternoon.

Now, the Rockies turn to Nicasio, who struck out seven and bordered on domination, to help change the mood after Tuesday night's 15-3 loss. After three seasons of battling injuries and learning the big league ropes, the Rockies believe Nicasio, 27, is ready to be the power pitcher the club has envisioned.

"Juan's had a great spring, and he's throwing the ball really well," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's in a great place. We're going to need that tomorrow. After this one, we'll need a good start. We feel good about Juan being out there."

Johnson, 24, a second-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of California, went 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA during a cameo late last season and made his first Opening Day roster this season. However, in his first game, he gave up seven earned runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings of a loss in Kansas City.

Through the Minors, Johnson possessed control and an above-average Major league slider, but he needs to show it in the Majors.

"He's got the physical stuff," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "He's a rookie. He expects more out of himself, so do we. He gets another crack at it tomorrow. But it's the amount of strikes. He did not throw enough strikes. He had a rough first inning. Second, third and fourth were good, and then he lost the zone in the fifth."

White Sox: Too bad they can't take the hits with them

Tuesday's victory featured six White Sox home runs, their most since June 24, 2009, against the Dodgers. Since 1914, they've managed six or more homers in a game just 13 times. The club record is seven, on April 23, 1955, against the Kansas City Athletics.

It was not a bad bounceback from an 8-1 loss to the Rockies on Monday night.

"Everybody hit tonight," Ventura said. "You like just seeing putting yesterday behind you and play for today. They've been good at doing that so far."

Rockies: Infield range and athletic ability leads to risk-taking

Second baseman DJ LeMahieu, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and third baseman Nolan Arenado are big guys with quick feet who aren't afraid to make the difficult play. They have a first baseman in Justin Morneau whose ability to field throws in the dirt is reminiscent of the man he replaced, the retired Todd Helton.

The combination leads to an infield that isn't afraid to take chances. In Monday's 8-1 victory, pitcher Jordan Lyles confidently turned a simple sacrifice bunt attempt by White Sox pitcher Felipe Paulino into a 1-6-3 double play, and Tulowitzki made a pair of his patented across-the-body throws..

Even in Tuesday night's 15-3 loss to the white Sox, the Rockies turned two around-the-horn double plays, with Charlie Culberson filling in for LeMahieu at second. Arenado leaped into foul ground to make two powerful throws across the infield. One was in the third inning but Jose Abreu's grounder was ruled foul. In the sixth, his play just like it on Avisail Garcia counted.

"We try to play aggressively offensively, aggressively defensively and pitching as well," LeMahieu said. "I don't think we're just looking for one out there. But if we can get two out of it, we're going to go for it."

Weiss, a former standout shortstop, encourages the Rockies to stretch their range and throwing ability.

"We talk about letting it fly in all aspects of the game," Weiss said. "We're a good defensive club, especially if you look at our infield defense. That'll be a strength for us all year."

Worth noting

• Abreu, who defected from Cuba and joined the White Sox after much bidding from teams (including the Rockies) hit his first two Major League home runs -- the first to end a 12-pitch at-bat against Chad Bettis -- and drove in five runs Tuesday.

• Tuesday was a big night for pitching outside of Denver for the Rockies.

Righty Tyler Chatwood struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings of what likely will be his only rehab start at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

At Double-A Tulsa, righty Eddie Butler, a supplemental first-round pick out of Radford University in 2012, struck out seven and gave up five hits and two runs in seven innings of a no-decision against San Antonio. Many anticipate Butler, who has a 2.25 ERA and 12 strikeouts against one walk in 12 innings for Tulsa, will make his debut this season.

• White Sox lefty Jose Quintana held the Rockies to two runs in seven innings on Tuesday. He has pitched at least seven innings 20 times in his career, and is 5-4 with a 2.20 ERA in those games.

• It was touch-and-go whether the Rockies would start Tulowitzki on Tuesday, but he went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Since going hitless on Opening Day, Tulowitzki has hit in all seven of his games and is 11-for-23 with three doubles, a triple, a home run, five RBIs and seven runs.

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