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Flande proving his value in starting rotation

Left-hander allows two runs over five innings Sunday vs. Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Lefty Yohan Flande has spent the last two seasons filling in wherever the Rockies need him, but his last two outings can be seen as a bid to convince manager Walt Weiss that Flande can fill a starting rotation need.

Coming off his first Major League victory Tuesday night against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, Flande held the Cardinals to two runs and four hits in five innings in the Rockies' 3-2 loss at Busch Stadium. Brandon Moss won it with a pinch-hit RBI single off Scott Oberg in the bottom of the ninth.

Flande, 29, took nine years in the Minors, counting three Dominican Summer League seasons, to make his Major League debut. He started 10 of his 16 appearances last year, as injuries left the Rockies calling on anyone and everyone. His first seven appearances this year were in relief, but Flande has done well enough in two starts -- since righty Chad Bettis went to the disabled list with right elbow inflammation -- to seemingly warrant a further look.

With outfielder Carlos Gonzalez interpreting, Flande said, "Everybody wants to be a starter," but he "won't say anything bad" if he has to go back to the bullpen, as long he can stay in the Majors. Flande referred to the chance as "an open door."

Flande also is a quick learner. He watched Jorge De La Rosa control the Cardinals' bats on Saturday night in the 6-2 Rockies victory, and essentially copied his plan of attacking with the fastball and changeup.

Flande didn't give up a hit until Stephen Piscotty singled to open the fourth, but he worked Jhonny Peralta into one of two double-play grounders. The other double play came at an important time.

After Jason Heyward singled and Randal Grichuk homered on a mistake changeup to open the fifth, Mark Reynolds singled. Flande seemed at risk for last year's big issue -- the second time through the lineup -- to bite him with a big inning. Instead, Flande forced Tony Cruz's double play and fanned Jaime Garcia.

Weiss removed Flande after 72 pitches, 43 strikes. As long as Flande stays in the strike zone with his sinker, he'll get more opportunities and may be able to hang in games longer.

"He's a strike-thrower -- that's what he does," Weiss said. "He sinks the ball and he's got a good changeup."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page.
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