Rockies open series with 5-1 road victory

Friday, October 12, 2007
ROSS D. FRANKLIN ~ Associated Press
The Arizona Diamondbacks' Justin Upton broke his bat as he grounded out during the second inning of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday against the Colorado Rockies in Phoenix.
gainst the Colorado Rockies in Phoenix, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

A fan incident resulted in umpires pulling the players off the field.

PHOENIX -- Jeff Francis and the Colorado Rockies rolled right past the Arizona Diamondbacks -- and their rowdy fans.

Francis outpitched Brandon Webb and the Rockies won the NL championship series opener 5-1 on Thursday night in a game interrupted when fans angered by an umpire's disputed interference call threw objects onto the field.

Umpires pulled the teams off the field during the eight-minute delay in the bottom of the seventh inning. Crew chief Tim McClelland told Rockies manager Clint Hurdle to have Francis throw a pitch and "fight through it."

Once play resumed, the wild-card Rockies escaped a jam in their NLCS debut and won for the 18th time in 19 games.

Game 2 is tonight in Phoenix, with Arizona lefty Doug Davis facing hard-throwing Colorado rookie Ubaldo Jimenez.

Francis dominated while Rockies hitters, coming off a first-round sweep over Philadelphia, patiently waited out Webb. Then again, they were familiar with the 2006 NL Cy Young -- this was the seventh time he started against Colorado this year.

Colorado's lone loss during its streak came to Webb and the Diamondbacks at Coors Field on Sept. 28. This time, the Rockies won by bunching singles -- it was the first time this season they won without an extra-base hit.

"Our offense can find a lot of ways to win games," Francis said. "It's been fun to have them behind me this year."

On a hot night in the desert -- it was 93 degrees outside at gametime -- tempers flared after a relatively calm six innings.

Down 5-1, Arizona put runners at runners at first and second with no outs in the seventh. Augie Ojeda bounced to third baseman Garrett Atkins, who threw to second baseman Kaz Matusi.

Justin Upton, running from first base, slid over second base and then rolled his right shoulder into Matsui's left leg, knocking the infielder to the ground. Second base umpire Larry Vanover immediately called Upton out for interference, resulting in a double play.

Fans started throwing water bottles onto the field from the upper decks. When more debris followed, umpires told the teams to get back in the dugouts.

"I was just playing the game. I did what I was supposed to do," Upton said. "That's what you're taught to do when you slide is pop up."

"It's his decision," he said. "I told him I was close to the bag."

About eight minutes later, the Rockies returned to the field after admonishments from the public address announcer that anyone throwing objects on the field would be ejected.

Francis threw just one more pitch, giving up a bunt single to pinch-hitter Jeff Cirillo. Matt Herges relieved and walked Chris Young, loading the bases.

The Rockies brought Jeremy Affeldt from the bullpen, and he retired Stephen Drew.

The game ended on a bad baserunning play by Arizona. Miguel Montero singled with two outs, but was tagged out when he overslid second base trying for a double.

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