Rockies work out road kinks

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Colorado is in position for its first road series win after a 3-1 victory over the Cardinals.

ST. LOUIS -- Nearing the midseason point, the Colorado Rockies have a shot at their first road series win of the year. Improbably, the Cardinals would be the victims.

Jamey Wright pitched effectively into the seventh inning and Brad Hawpe's two-run single in the sixth broke up a scoreless game in a 3-1 victory on Saturday night. The Rockies have taken two of the first three games in the four-game series against the team with the NL's best record.

Colorado is 0-11-1 in road series this season, and manager Clint Hurdle expects a fired-up team in the finale.

"This club doesn't need a lot to get it motivated," Hurdle said. "They're hungry, all of them. Even some of these guys that have experience have some things to prove.

"I'm sure we'll show up and just let it fly the best we can, and see what happens."

J.D. Closser added his third home run and Todd Helton had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games for the Rockies, who are 7-32 on the road. Their road start is the worst in the major leagues since the Twins also were 7-32 in 1982.

Albert Pujols extended his hitting streak to 14 games for the Cardinals, who are 5-4 on this homestand with one game to go. They are also 3-4 against the lowly Rockies.

"There wasn't anything wrong with the effort," manager Tony La Russa said. "You can't get too carried away with anything."

Wright (5-8) allowed an unearned run in 6 1-3 innings, ending a three-game losing streak and bouncing back after allowing a franchise record-tying 15 hits in his last start against Houston on Monday. He gave up five hits with three strikeouts and one walk, winning for the second time in six road decisions.

"Fifteen hits, that doesn't look too good in the box score, but I knew I threw the ball well and I have for about the last month," Wright said. "I just tried to find the positives and come out there and try to pound the strike zone and make them put the ball in play."

Brian Fuentes worked the ninth for his 10th save in 12 chances, getting Pujols to hit into a double play to end the game, as the Rockies won despite a handful of botched plays by second baseman Eddy Garabito in the seventh.

Garabito was handcuffed by Abraham Nunez's one-hop liner for an error to open the inning, then he dropped Einar Diaz's soft liner, although he recovered in time for an easy force play. On the next play, Diaz somehow evaded Garabito's tag attempt on his way to second on a grounder by Jason Marquis to put runners on first and second with one out.

Hurdle argued that Diaz had been tagged, but was impressed that his team worked its way out of the problem.

"Calls are going to be missed, but the biggest point was that everybody kept their composure," Hurdle said. "It's just not panicking, slowing the game down, getting the next hitter, getting the next out, not trying to do too much."

David Eckstein loaded the bases with a single off Dan Miceli and Jim Edmonds walked on a full count to break the shutout. But Pujols flied out to shallow left and Larry Walker grounded back to the mound to end the inning.

Marquis (8-6) held the Rockies to two hits through five innings before Colorado broke through with a two-out, two-run rally in the sixth. Todd Helton singled, Garrett Atkins doubled and both scored on Hawpe's single. The hit gave Hawpe the rookie RBI lead with 37, one more than Atkins.

Closser hit his third homer, and first since June 8, with two outs in the seventh for a 3-0 lead.

Marquis lasted seven innings, his longest outing in four starts, and gave up three runs and six hits. He is 0-3 in that stretch, giving up 17 earned runs in 20 1-3 innings.

"On the whole, I thought I was throwing a lot better," Marquis said. "Mostly I threw good pitches down in the zone."

He had a better day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double to raise his average to .390 with a homer and seven RBIs. He was allowed to bat in the seventh and then left the game.

Notes: All but the first inning was played with a three-man umpire crew after Jim Joyce sprained his right knee covering a play at the plate. Joyce was the fourth umpire to leave Busch Stadium during a game this season. Pujols was thrown out on the play for the second time in three games, each time on an ill-advised call by third-base coach Jose Oquendo. ... Helton, who is batting .410 (16-for-39) during his streak, needs to hit in one more game to tie Clint Barmes for the Rockies' longest of the season. ... Pujols is batting .404 (21-for-52) during his streak.

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