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COL@PHI: Nicasio gives up one over 5 2/3 frames

The conditions at Coors Field aren't exactly favorable for pitching, and they especially aren't welcoming for visiting hurlers.

So when Barry Zito toes the rubber for the Giants in Monday's series opener against the Rockies, don't be surprised if he struggles to put zeros on the scoreboard. Zito's woes on the road, where he's 0-7 with a 9.45 ERA, have been well documented. And while he did deliver the Giants' first win of last season with a four-hit shutout at Coors Field, he's 1-2 with a 4.88 ERA against the Rockies this season.

In his last four starts, Zito has struggled to an 0-3 record with an 11.20 ERA. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his last start against the Red Sox, yielding six earned runs off seven hits, two walks and a home run.

"No one's throwing in the towel," Zito said after the game in his return to the starting rotation as injured Chad Gaudin's replacement.

Throwing opposite Zito is Juan Nicasio, who had a no-decision in his last outing against the Phillies. The right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings and is 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA in his last three starts.

Nicasio had a no-decision in his last outing against the Phillies. The right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings. Before he was sent down June 25, he went 4-4 in 16 games with a 5.31 ERA, and opponents hit .271 off him. Since his return July 12, he has gone 3-2 with a 3.83 ERA and held opponents to a .243 average.

He's 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA in his last three starts.

The postseason may be out of the picture for both teams, but the Giants do have something to play for: San Francisco is attempting to avoid being only the second team to finish last one year after winning the World Series. It trails Colorado by two games, so this series is relevant, even if it's in a backwards way. The only other Series winner to finish last: Florida, 1997-98.

Rockies: Rosario impressing with progress, work ethic
There's been some speculation that Wilin Rosario might end up being groomed to play first base, which is where he played Wednesday night against the Phillies in Philadelphia. However, Rockies manager Walt Weiss thinks that it may be best to keep Rosario behind the plate.

"I see him as a catcher," Weiss said. "He's a young catcher and he's got some things to improve on, but the skill set is certainly there. He's a great athlete. With the things he can do offensively, for a catcher, he can be one of the elite players in the game."

Rosario, who was not in the starting lineup for the Rockies' final game Sunday against the Marlins, has certainly done his job at the plate this season. He has a .281 batting average and .485 slugging percentage with 20 homers and 70 RBIs. He's also made strides sitting behind the dish.

Giants: Affeldt to ramp up rehab after throwing off mound
Emerging healthy from throwing off a bullpen mound Saturday, Giants left-hander Jeremy Affeldt has put himself on course to pitch a simulated game during the team's Sept. 2-4 series at San Diego, which could precede his reinstatement from the 15-day disabled list. Affeldt, who hasn't pitched since straining his left groin July 20, will head for the Giants' Scottsdale, Ariz., training complex to intensify his rehabilitation and throw another bullpen session Monday, manager Bruce Bochy said.

Bochy noted that Affeldt, and thus the team, can benefit if he pitches effectively during the season's final weeks, "to have him in the right frame of mind for next year."

Bochy added that right-hander Matt Cain, who went on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a bruised right forearm, also will report to Arizona to hasten his recovery.

Worth noting
• Sunday marked only the fifth game since the All-Star break that the Giants recorded more than three hits with a runner in scoring position.

• Nineteen of the Giants' 33 remaining games on the 2013 regular-season schedule will come against teams that are currently above .500.

• Colorado's Todd Helton recorded two hits Saturday and is now four hits shy of 2,500 for his career. With his second hit Saturday, he passed Mickey Vernon for 96th on the MLB all-time list. With his next double, he'll surpass Robin Yount for sole possession of 17th place on the all-time list.

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