The Atkins way: Rockies slam Sox
Colorado lifts record to .500 mark after taking rubber game
BOSTON -- Thursday night was a nice new beginning for Garrett Atkins and the Rockies.
Atkins proved that he arrived for 2007 with a grand slam, a single and a double, as the Rockies pulled to .500 by beating previously undefeated pitcher Josh Beckett and the Red Sox, 7-1, at Fenway Park before a sellout crowd of 36,939.
"I know I'm a good hitter, and I had two bad months of swings and games, but we've got another 3 1/2 months," Atkins said. "I'm just going to try to keep getting better."
The Rockies (33-33) can identify. Their second straight winning road trip (two out of three against the Orioles and the American League East-leading Sox), has them at .500 for the first time since April 13. In the past two nights, they beat Curt Schilling and Beckett (9-1), who was 4-0 in five career starts against the Rockies.
Since the start of last season, the Rockies are 15-6 in Interleague Play, which continues on Friday with a six-game homestand against the Devil Rays and then the Yankees.
Atkins, who hit .329 with 29 home runs last season, is batting .342 (13-for-38) with two home runs, five doubles and nine RBIs in 11 June games; his average is now at .242.
"He's a good hitter," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "For two seasons, all we did was throw him praise. Then six weeks into this season, you've got some people throwing dirt on him."
Atkins buried a 3-1 fastball from Beckett, who yielded season-highs for runs (six) and hits (10) in his five innings. Matt Holliday parked his team-leading 11th homer of the season off Beckett the following inning.
Atkins said the work of his teammates has minimized his struggles.
Holliday is batting .353. Todd Helton is hitting .323. Brad Hawpe, who went 0-for-4 on Thursday but homered off Schilling on Wednesday, is at .292. Leadoff man Willy Taveras is at .310, and No. 2 hitter Kazuo Matsui, who went 3-for-5, is at .328.
"That's the sign of a good team if you can pick each other up and know that one person doesn't have to be 'the guy,'" Atkins said. "That's what's got good on this team."
Rockies starter Jeff Francis (6-5) struck out six for his fifth win in six decisions, but he lasted just five innings. He gave up seven hits and walked two.
Strikeouts of Manny Ramirez, on a fastball the hitter didn't expect, and Kevin Youkilis ended the first inning with two men on. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki made a diving catch of J.D. Drew's liner with the bases loaded and one out in the third, and Francis ended the frame by fanning Dustin Pedroia.
"I've just got to try and do what I do, and hope that, like today, we come through and score a lot of runs," Francis said.
Relievers Jorge Julio, Tom Martin, LaTroy Hawkins, Manny Corpas and Brian Fuentes held the Sox to one run and three hits in the final four innings.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.