DENVER -- With Dexter Fowler making strides offensively, the Rockies are hoping to see him striding around the bases more often.

After returning from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday, Fowler broke out with three hits -- two singles and a triple -- and two runs on Thursday against the Giants. He also stole two bases.

"It's going to help the team in the long run," Fowler said. "It'll put more pressure on the pitchers and their defense."

One of his steals was a double steal, partnered with left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, a tactic Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he hopes to employ often.

"Speed is a very, very difficult thing to defend," Tracy said. "When those guys start reaching base, what they have the capability of is helping your team make quality outs, put the ball in play and produce runs."

In 27 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs, Fowler hit .340 with 10 doubles, four triples and two homers. He was 8-for-12 in stolen base attempts.

"There are goals you want to set," Fowler said, "but at the same time, you're not going to strive to get a number unless it's real high.

"Everybody wants to get 30 bags a year, but I'll take them as they come. If I don't get a jump, I won't rush it."

Tulo's rehab eased by Rockies' success

DENVER -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said a doctor's examination on Thursday revealed that his fractured left wrist is healing as well as expected. How he feels swinging the bat will determine where his return will fall on the original six-to-eight-week timetable.

But Tulowitzki said watching the Rockies absorb his absence well has made watching a little easier.

The Rockies went into Friday night's game against the Giants with a 9-4 record in his absence. Clint Barmes, who moved from second base to shortstop to cover for Tulowitzki, has hit .321 since June 1. Second baseman Jonathan Herrera, a recent callup from Triple-A Colorado Springs, hit safely in 12 of his first 13 starts.

"The teams that make it in the end are the teams that put up with the adversity and hang on until they get healthy," Tulowitzki said. "I don't think there's one team that's won a World Series or been to the playoffs without facing some adversity. You look right now, Boston is being put to the test, the Phillies are being put to the test, we're being put to the test.

"These guys have done a great job."

Tulowitzki, who said a piece of bone chipped off when he was hit by a pitch at Minnesota on June 17, said it's hard to put a finger on when he'll return.

"It's based on feel -- if I feel good, they're going to give me the OK to go," Tulowitzki said. "So it's not for sure six weeks. It could be earlier. It could be more time. It's depending on how I feel. I've grabbed a bat and tried to take swings. I've played catch and done my conditioning, but hitting is going to be the hardest step and the last step."

Tulowitzki said he'll wear padding on the wrist initially when he returns. His former Long Beach State teammate, Rays infielder Evan Longoria, has been through the same injury and is offering advice.

"He said when he came back it was a little tender and it bothered him a little bit, but it got better and after a while, he didn't feel it," Tulowitzki said.

Tracy gives Helton, Hawpe a breather

DENVER -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he was holding first baseman Todd Helton and right fielder Brad Hawpe out of the lineup on Friday against the Giants as a precaution as the two continue to nurse injuries.

Helton has been battling back stiffness and Hawpe suffered bruised ribs while running into the right-field wall in foul territory in Anaheim last week. Helton was 1-for-4 on Thursday, while Hawpe played on Wednesday in San Diego, but not since.

"When you're trying to hit and rotate and use the lower half of the body accordingly, if you have discomfort that way, it doesn't give you the opportunity to be who you're capable of being at home plate," Tracy said of Hawpe.

In Friday's starting lineup, Jason Giambi was at Helton's usual spot at first base.

"We're being somewhat cautious," Tracy said. "There has been a little stiffness that we've dealt with with Helton over the last few days or so. It's not that he couldn't play, but because of what it is that we're dealing with, I just didn't want to take any chances."

Tracy said the disabled list had not been discussed for either player.

"We're about eight days away from an All-Star break," Tracy said, "which is going to do a lot of people in the clubhouse a lot of good."

Rockies face tall task in Giants' staff

DENVER -- Teams in the National League West are no stranger to excellent pitching, but that won't make it any easier for the Rockies when they come up against it this weekend.

Colorado faces San Francisco's Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain this weekend. Zito and Lincecum have combined for three Cy Young Awards, and the 25-year-old Cain is considered another talented facet of the Giants' staff.

"It's no day at the beach, trust me," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

"But that's part of what makes that club on the other side of the field very good. They bring extremely good starting pitching to the table every day."

Lincecum, National League Cy Young winner in the last two seasons and Friday's starter, entered the contest 5-4 with a 3.62 ERA against the Rockies. Zito and Cain, who will throw Saturday and Sunday, respectively, have combined for 13 wins this year.

Cain has notched two wins against the Rockies this season, while Zito also beat Colorado on April 30. The trio can be considered with some of the best starting pitchers the Rockies have faced this year, including Francisco Liriano, Jon Lester, Roy Oswalt and Roy Halladay.

"We've done our fair share with having to deal with the game's best when we've played within our own league or Interleague and we've stepped up to those challenges very well," Tracy said.

Matzek making most of first pro season

DENVER -- The Rockies are pleased with the progress of left-handed pitcher Tyler Matzek, their 2009 first-round pick, in his first pro season.

Matzek, 19, is 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in seven starts at Class A Asheville. Two starts ago, June 24, Matzek pitched 5 2/3 hitless innings, with five strikeouts but five walks, in a win over Savannah. In his last start, Tuesday against Kannapolis, he gave up one run and five hits in 5 2/3 innings of a no-decision. He fanned seven and walked three. He has 39 strikeouts and 24 walks in 35 innings.

"It's just getting used to the whole routine of his strength and conditioning, throwing every fifth day with a side day in between. Remember, he's used to throwing every Friday in high school," Rockies assistant general manager Bill Geivett said. "It takes some time. That first year is an adjustment phase, especially since he didn't pitch last summer at all. He's just getting going, coming out of extended [spring training]. Now, we're in season.

"He's got dominant stuff. It was mostly his fastball, when he gets it in the zone and down in the zone, it's as good as you're going to see anywhere, especially from the left side."

Matzek was drafted last June out of Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, Calif. He signed for a $3.9 million bonus in August.