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LAD@COL: Smith belts a two-run homer to right-center

DENVER -- As far as anyone could tell, the Rockies didn't sacrifice any live chickens on Sunday.

Instead, they broke their dubious Major League record for Sunday futility with a pair of thunderous swings and a steady performance from a veteran pitcher who showed he can still help a team.

Seth Smith's two-run home run in the seventh off Chad Billingsley helped give the Rockies a 5-3 win over the Dodgers at Coors Field. With the win, the Rockies broke a 17-game losing streak in Sunday contests, a big league record they are glad to have behind them.

Carlos Gonzalez hit a two-run home run in the first -- one of just three Rockies hits -- and starter Kevin Millwood tossed seven determined innings to earn his first win with Colorado.

"It's a miracle," Rockies first baseman Jason Giambi said with a laugh. "Thank God it's Faith Day."

Giambi was referring to the seventh annual worship service at Coors Field after the game, which featured the music of Christian band Casting Crowns. Regardless of whom the Rockies turned to for inspiration, they were happy to move on from the Sunday streak.

But, more importantly, it gave the Rockies back-to-back series wins for the first time since series victories over the Tigers and Padres from June 13-19.

"The worst part was talking about [the streak] every time," said shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who gave the Rockies an insurance run in the eighth with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. "You start to think about it. Obviously, we're out there playing, and it's in the back of your mind. It's kind of over with now, and the biggest thing to look forward to is, we have another series and we'll try to keep on winning series."

The win helped preserve a strong outing from Millwood, whom the Rockies needed to eat up innings after the bullpen was heavily taxed in Saturday's 13-inning affair. He did just that, giving up three runs on seven hits over seven frames. Millwood, making his third start for the Rockies, struck out four and walked one.

"Our starting pitcher today did exactly what he's been doing since he showed up," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "That is compete his rear end off, eat up innings for us, pitch us deep into the game and give us a chance to win."

In his lengthy career, Millwood has prided himself on being able to pitch deep into games, and "today it was especially important to give those guys [in the bullpen] a break."

"I think everybody, when you go out there, you're thinking about going nine innings, or as long as possible," Millwood said. "I just want to stay out there as long as I can and give the team a chance to win the game."

After James Loney's solo home run in the fourth gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead, Millwood surrendered just one hit the rest of the way. He helped out with his glove, too, snaring a line drive near his head off the bat of Billingsley before doubling Jamey Carroll off first to kill a rally in the seventh.

Billingsley entered the game 1-5 with a 7.88 ERA over seven career starts at Coors Field. On Sunday, though, he surrendered only three hits over 7 2/3 innings, but they accounted for all the run the Rockies needed.

Gonzalez got the Rockies on the board in the first with a line-drive two-run homer to right field, his 21st of the season -- and sixth since coming of the disabled list on Aug. 6. The blast followed a one-out single by Mark Ellis.

Billingsley retired 11 straight after Gonzalez's homer, and he didn't give up his third hit until Smith's two-run moonshot -- his 14th -- in the seventh, which followed Giambi's walk.

Smith's homer was a no-doubter, traveling an estimated 458 feet. But told it had to be the longest of his career, the outfielder had his doubts.

"I bet I have a longer one," he said. "We'll have to check the [Elias Sports] Bureau."

Billingsley said the pitch to Smith, a cutter, slipped out of his hand.

"I didn't execute," he said. "You know it right when you release it and say, 'Uh oh, please take it.'"

The long balls were enough for the Rockies, who received another solid effort from their bullpen, including Rafael Betancourt's second save of the season. Third baseman Chris Nelson helped keep the lead intact in the eighth, making a diving stop that robbed Matt Kemp of what would have likely been an RBI double.

Loney led the charge for the Dodgers, finishing a triple short of the cycle. He doubled in a run in the second and put the Dodgers ahead in the fourth with his solo shot to right -- his sixth -- as part of a 4-for-4 day.

The cloud of their Sunday hassles lifted, the Rockies begin a three-game series with the Astros on Monday. Colorado trails the D-backs by 9 1/2 games in the National League West.

"If we're going to make a run at this race we're still in as of right now, we need to win every game," Smith said. Comments