Helton gets his first hit of spring training

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ROCKIES 6, CUBS 3

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jeff Francis is way ahead of schedule for the start of the Colorado Rockies' season. Todd Helton could use a some more good at-bats.

Francis pitched four shutout inning and Helton had his first hit and RBI as the Rockies beat the Chicago Cubs 6-3 to snap a three-game losing streak.

"I threw a couple of nice curveballs early and then was able to speed it up later in the count, and that worked very well," said Francis who has not allowed a run and only six hits in nine innings. "Now I can work on some other pitches in my other starts."

Helton, a .320 hitter who was limited to 69 games and a career-low .238 average while fighting hip problems last season, gave Colorado a-1-0 lead in the first with an opposite-field ground-rule double. It was only his second spring game and third at-bat. Helton grounded out sharply to the pitcher in his other at-bat. His timing at the plate looked off.

The only hit Francis gave up was bloop single to Cubs starter Scott Feldman, who signed as a free agent with the Cubs after six-plus seasons with the Texas Rangers.

Feldman, expected to be in the Cubs' rotation, gave up four runs and six hits while facing 13 batters in a little over two innings.

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