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SD@COL: Morales fans six, limits Padres to one run

Doug Fister won his last two starts before the break by giving the Nationals seven innings, including an outing in which he limited the Rockies to three runs in Washington.

Unfortunately for Fister, his last start came on July 9, giving him 12 days between then and when he takes the mound again Monday.

That's especially concerning considering sinkerballers like Fister tend to keep the ball too high in the zone when working on too much rest.

But manager Matt Williams believes Fister doesn't fit into the traditional sinkerballer mold.

"Generally, sinkerball guys are better when they're a little bit tired," Williams said. "But Doug is a little bit of a hybrid in that regard, I think. The ball sinks, yes. But he also throws high fastballs, too ... He's not a true sinkerballer -- in my view, anyway -- because he does throw high fastballs to get strikeouts."

Of course, Williams would prefer none of his starters sit for that long without any game action. Even when you try to stay sharp by facing live hitters during the break, Williams acknowledged "it's still not the same."

"You worry about guys getting too much time, anybody, and losing their rhythm and timing out there," Williams said. "But that's the nature of the game. And that's the nature of the break. So there's not much we can do about it except do what everybody else is doing: slot 'em in and let 'em go."

Left-hander Franklin Morales will get the call for the Rockies at home. The veteran southpaw enters Monday's game 5-4 with a 5.26 ERA on the year. In his last outing, Morales kept the Padres in check through 5 2/3 innings. He allowed just one run and struck out six.

Morales has never made a start against the Nationals, but has found success in five relief appearances against Washington. Over 6 2/3 innings, he's held Washington scoreless.

Nationals: Ramos relishing batting lower in lineup
Catcher Wilson Ramos may have been the Nationals' Opening-Day cleanup hitter, but Bryce Harper's return from a torn thumb ligament has forced him lower in the lineup.

Ramos clearly hasn't minded, though, batting .340 (16-for-47) over the 12 games Harper's played with seven RBIs and a home run entering Sunday. Most recently before his off-day, Ramos erupted for three hits and three RBIs in four at-bats in Saturday's 8-3 win over the Brewers.

His average has rose from .274 to .295 over that span and according to Ramos, it's all about carefully choosing his opportunities.

"Every time I go up there, I'm just looking for one pitch," Ramos said. "Make a good swing and try to put the ball in play and see what happens. That's what I like to do. I don't care if I'm hitting fourth, fifth, sixth. I just go out there and try to do my job. So if I've got runners on base, try to bring those runners in."

Rockies: CarGo slowly regaining form after surgery
The series against the Pirates encapsulated Carlos Gonzalez's up-and-down play since returning from left index finger surgery on July 11.

On Friday, Gonzalez struck out in each of his five at-bats, stranding five runners on base.

One day later, he hit his first homer since May 30 and threw out Andrew McCutchen as the reigning National League MVP was heading home in the eighth, keeping the go-ahead run off the board and forcing extra innings.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss knows that even when Gonzalez is having a difficult time regaining him rhythm offensively, he still remains a game-changer.

"He's a tremendous talent," Weiss said. "He can win a game in a number of ways. Even when he struggles like he did the other night, I always feel with one swing he can change the game, no matter whether he's struggling or not. He can go in the outfield and make a play or throw a guy out. He can win a game in a number of ways."

Worth noting
• Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau remains day-to-day after missing his third straight start with a neck injury Sunday.

• Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki sat out Sunday after departing Saturday's game earlier with a left quad cramp.

• Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon got a day of rest Sunday after turning his ankle in Saturday's 11-inning loss to the Pirates. Considering Blackmon was able to play through the injury Saturday and the X-rays came back negative, he should be considered day-to-day at the worst.

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