Key home runs power Rockies past Cardinals

Friday, April 11, 2003

DENVER -- A strong outing by Shawn Chacon and the first triple play in their history couldn't get the Colorado Rockies over the hump. But clutch homers by Todd Helton and Jose Hernandez did.

Helton hit a solo homer and Hernandez added a two-run shot in the eighth inning, rallying the Rockies to a 7-6 win over the Cardinals on Thursday.

The Rockies overcame deficits of 2-0 and 6-4 to win for the sixth time in seven games.

After a particularly ugly inning in the top of the eighth -- when three Colorado errors contributed to four St. Louis runs -- the Rockies refused to quit.

With one out in the Rockies half, Helton homered off Lance Painter.

Painter injured his right hamstring while throwing a pitch to Preston Wilson. Steve Kline (0-1) came in and threw ball four to Wilson, and Hernandez then hit a 428-foot homer to right-center.

"His first four pitches were outside," Hernandez said. "He got behind in the count, 3-1, and I was thinking, I'm going to swing anyhow. He threw me a fastball out over the plate, and I put a good swing on it. I hit it good."

Helton said the top of the inning "could have been demoralizing, but we've got guys who have been around, professional hitters who know this field. We just battled. We're rolling pretty good right now, and we hope it keeps going."

Manager Clint Hurdle described his team as "resilient."

"We didn't roll over, we didn't fold," Hurdle said. "I think the guys who have been here awhile and the guys we brought in are just tired of being kicked around. We've got a bunch of people who are hungry."

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he planned to use Kline in the ninth to get the save.

"With two outs, I didn't want to waste (Dustin) Hermanson for one hitter," La Russa said. "Kline didn't keep the ball down very well, he fell behind and you saw what happened."

Javier Lopez (1-0) got two outs for his first career win, and Jose Jimenez pitched the ninth for his second save.

Jim Edmonds drove in two runs for St. Louis, and Tino Martinez had three hits.

Scott Rolen led off the Cardinals' eighth against reliever Todd Jones with a single. Martinez also singled, and Orlando Palmeiro hit an RBI single. Jones fielded Mike Matheny's bunt and attempted to throw out the lead runner at third but couldn't get the ball out of his glove, for an error.

Third baseman Brent Butler, a defensive replacement that inning, booted pinch-hitter Eli Marrero's grounder and then threw wild past second base. The two errors allowed two runs to score. Edgar Renteria followed with an RBI single.

Colorado got a second straight strong outing from Chacon, who departed with a 4-2 lead. Chacon went 6 2-3 innings, allowing seven hits and two runs.

St. Louis' Garrett Stephenson allowed six hits and four runs in six innings.

The Rockies' triple play in the sixth was the first in the majors since last Sept. 13, by Tampa Bay against Toronto.

St. Louis put runners on first and second with no outs when Orlando Palmeiro lined into a triple play. With both runners moving, Helton caught the soft liner to first base and threw to Hernandez, who was covering second. Hernandez stepped on the base to double up Rolen, who had been on second, and then tagged out Martinez, who had been on first.

"I've never seen a triple play, I don't think," Helton said. "With both runners going and no one out, I knew when he hit it, it's a triple play. It was pretty simple."

Chacon said he had "never been a part of something so lucky in my life. That had the makings of a big inning for them."

St. Louis went ahead 2-0 in the third on Edmonds' two-run single.

Stringing together four straight hits including three doubles, the Rockies took a 3-2 lead in the fourth.

Larry Walker tripled and scored on Hernandez's sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Both sides engaged in a war of words after Wednesday night's game, when Wilson stole a base in the eighth inning with his team leading 9-4. While Wilson argued that no lead is safe at Coors Field, the Cardinals accused the Rockies of piling it on and hinted at retaliation. There was none, however.


Stephenson was attempting to win back-to-back starts for the first time since August 2000. ... In his previous start, Chacon had a perfect game through 5 1-3 innings, eventually going seven innings in a 2-1 win over Arizona last Friday. ... St. Louis hit into a triple play for the first time since May 31, 2000, against Arizona.

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