Furcal's homer helps the Dodgers win seventh straight

DENVER (AP) -- Rafael Furcal can't remember having a better stretch at the plate.

The Los Angeles shortstop had three hits, including a three-run homer in a seven-run sixth inning, and the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 11-6 Friday night for their seventh straight win.

"This is the best of my career," Furcal said. "When you go up and it's going well, anything can happen. You look forward to every at-bat."

Even his miss-hits are going for hits. Furcal had a swinging bunt with the bases loaded in the eighth that turned into an RBI single. Even he had to smile about that one.

"I've found a lot of gaps and I've made some damage," said Furcal, who has reached base safely in every game this season and is batting .380.

So has Matt Kemp, who drove in four runs with two doubles.

"We know we can put runs on the board," Kemp said. "We can compete with any team. We think we're the best team out there and right now we're playing like it."

The Rockies are headed in the opposite direction, losing for the 10th time in their last 12 games.

"I think we need to play better. That's the way I look it," manager Clint Hurdle said. "But when you simplify things, break it down, it still comes down to execution. Execution starts with me, and I'm accountable and responsible for it. This game holds you to a very high level of execution."

Brad Penny [5-2] went five innings, allowing three runs and three hits while striking out just one and walking a season-high four. Still, Penny once again got the better of the Rockies, improving to 14-2 in 23 career starts.

"It didn't look like he was getting into it until the last couple of innings," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "But he got the win."

The Dodgers may have discovered another option at third base. Russell Martin made his first career start at the corner spot, turning in a couple of defensive gems.

"He can pick it. He's got great hands," Kemp said.

Martin enjoyed the break from behind the plate. He said it's a mental grind playing catcher all the time.

"I love playing the infield -- except first base," said Martin, who had three assists and a putout before sliding back to catcher in the sixth inning. "It was a nice breather. Plus, it kept me warm."

Los Angeles went from balmy weather to brrrrr in a day. They played in 80-degree sunshine in Florida on Thursday, only to be greeted by a cold front in Denver that dipped temperatures into the mid 30s.

It took awhile for the Dodgers' bats to warm up, but they sizzled in the sixth when they sent 10 batters to the plate. Kemp had an RBI double, Mark Sweeney drew a pinch-hit walk that forced home a run and Blake DeWitt had a pinch-hit two-run single.

Six of the runs were scored with two outs, including Furcal's three-run homer to left off reliever Josh Newman. It was Furcal's fourth homer of the season.

With a 3-0 lead, Jeff Francis [0-3] was cruising toward his first win of the season before the sixth. He gave up four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"Just a bad inning knocked me out of the game," Francis said. "It could have turned out other ways, but the blame falls on myself."

Todd Helton hit a solo homer for Colorado, his third of the season. Scott Podsednik had a pinch-hit two-run triple, Clint Barmes drove in a run with a single and Matt Holliday picked up two RBIs on two groundouts.

Troy Tulowitzki said before the game that he doesn't think he'll need surgery after suffering a tear in his left quadriceps on Tuesday night.

However, he's not sure when he'll be back. Colorado's slick-fielding shortstop could be out until the All-Star break.

Game notes
RHP Jason Grilli made his debut with Colorado, giving up two hits and no runs in one inning. He was acquired Wednesday from Detroit. To make room, Colorado designated RHP Jose Capellan for assignment. ... Dodgers RHP Jason Schmidt threw 72 pitches off the mound Friday, and will throw a simulated game either Monday or Tuesday. ... INF Juan Castro has agreed to terms with Colorado on a minor league contract, pending a physical. Castro started the season with Cincinnati, but was designated for assignment on April 21. ... The game lasted 3 hours, 33 minutes, the longest nine-inning contest for the Rockies this season.