Rox beat Padres, stay in playoff hunt
Colorado pulls within three games of San Diego for Wild Card
DENVER -- A Todd Helton milestone in September used to be the highlight for the Rockies in a late-season game at Coors Field.Helton would get his standing ovation and Colorado would go back to "wait until next year" mode. Not this year. The Rockies defeated the Padres, 4-2, on Sunday and moved to within three games of San Diego in the National League Wild Card race by winning the series, 2-1. Helton hit his 35th double this season, which made him the first player in Major League history with at least 35 doubles for 10 straight seasons. "It's a great honor," Helton said. "Any time you do something in this game that nobody's done, it's a huge accomplishment." But instead of being the story, Helton was a footnote. The story was the Rockies' resiliency, the official buzzword around Coors Field these days. The Rockies were without the first two hitters in their lineup -- Willy Taveras and Kazuo Matsui -- and were facing Chris Young, who they had scored one run against in 15 innings this season. Colorado only got two hits off Young in five innings, but it had good timing. After Young hit Matt Holliday with a pitch in the first inning, Helton followed with a two-out RBI single. Garrett Atkins followed Helton with a two-run homer. "Garret's home run was huge," Holliday said. "You figure [that in the] worst-case scenario, you get three runs off of him, which is what it was. [He] gave [Josh] Fogg a little bit of breathing room and allowed him to go out and pitch his game." Fogg pitched his game all right, which is one that leaves everyone on the edge of their seat. Fogg went five innings, scattering seven hits and three walks to hold the Padres to one run, on a Michael Barrett RBI double in the fourth. Morgan Ensberg tried to score from first on Barrett's double and was thrown out at the plate on the relay throw from shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Fogg (9-9) got out of the inning when Young singled to center and Barrett tried to score from second but was thrown out by Ryan Spilborghs. "That's a gift right there," Fogg said. "You don't expect those, and when you do get them, it's nice." After Fogg gave up a leadoff single in the sixth to Ensberg, he was replaced by Matt Herges. Herges got the next two batters to fly out and catcher Chris Iannetta ended the inning by throwing out Ensberg trying to steal second. Brian Fuentes came in to end the seventh with a strikeout of Adrian Gonzalez. The Padres threatened in the eighth when Fuentes walked Ensberg with one out, gave up an infield hit to Barrett and then an RBI single to Kevin Kouzmanoff. Manny Corpas relieved Fuentes with one out and got Brian Myrow to ground to second baseman Omar Quintanilla, who tagged Kouzmanoff and threw to first to end the inning.
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"You're going to get in some big spots, and you want your big boys to pitch," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "Fuentes gave us what we needed in the seventh ... and Corpas rolling that ground-ball double play was huge."Holliday added a leadoff homer in the eighth, his team-leading 26th of the season, and Corpas threw a scoreless ninth to record his 14th save of the season in 14 opportunities. Holliday's homer was the fourth and final hit for the Rockies, who won for the first time this century at Coors Field with four hits or less. But the major feat of the day belonged to Helton, who finished 2-for-4, the only Rockie with two hits. Last season Helton joined Tris Speaker, who played from 1907-28, as the only player to hit at least 35 doubles for nine straight seasons. Saturday, he stood all alone. "I can't even fathom," Hurdle said. "[It's impressive] when you hang an accolade like that around a player -- the only one ever. I've always said before -- you get to be great by being good for a long time. He's been really good for a long time. He's become a great player in the game. ... You think about the names that have played this game and Helton's the only one that's ever done it. He's in a very, very special place."
C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.