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09/14/06 3:30 AM ET
Rockies' big inning survives Giant test
Seven-run frame helps break Jennings' winless streak
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki made sure Wednesday night actually would end differently for Jason Jennings and the Rockies. Tulowitzki's diving play on a Pedro Feliz grounder with runners at second and third at the end of the seventh inning helped the Rockies preserve a 9-8 victory over the Giants at AT&T Park in front of 34,847. The dive by Tulowitzki, and more defensive plays in the ninth, helped give Jennings (8-12) his first victory since June 20. Jennings received rare run support, as the Rockies matched a season high by scoring seven in the fifth that forged an 8-1 lead, and glove work to win despite yielding five runs in 5 1/3 innings. "Before the game they showed a stat on the screen saying 'J.J.' hadn't won a game for a while," Tulowitzki said. "Every time I've played a game behind him, he pitched well. When I paid attention to the team when I was in Double-A, he'd had good outings. I was very surprised to see [the winless streak]." The Rockies won for the fifth time in six games and left the Giants trailing the National League Wild Card-leading Padres by 2 1/2 games and the NL West-leading Dodgers by four games. Tulowitzki, the Rockies' No. 1 draft pick last year out of Long Beach State, made his dazzling play after Moises Alou's two-run, two-out double off Manny Corpas cut the Rockies' lead to 9-7. Tulowitzki, who said, "I wanted the ball hit to me in that situation," quickly went left and made a full dive for Feliz's hard-hit ball, then popped up for the throw. "He's probably made that play 100 times," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "But I don't think he's made it in a bigger situation." The situations stayed big. Closer Brian Fuentes, who earned an eventful 26th save, forced a Shea Hillenbrand fly ball with two on and two out to end the eighth. Barry Bonds led off the ninth with his 732nd homer and is 8-for-10 with two homers off the left-handed Fuentes, who followed the homer with two one-out walks. But Brad Hawpe made a difficult catch on a Todd Greene liner near the right-field wall, and third baseman Garrett Atkins made a diving play on Eliezer Alfonzo's grounder and first baseman Todd Helton scooped the one-bounce throw. All of this made a winner of Jennings, who entered with a 3.48 ERA but had little to show for it because he had 3.75 runs per nine innings from his club -- the lowest such figure for any NL pitcher. Jennings has often been calm after losses, saying he couldn't control run support. But he admitted he was a basket case as the Giants threatened to hand more disappointment Wednesday. "It's one of the games where you didn't want them to have the last at-bat, because that's just the way the night was going," said Jennings, who increased his innings total for the season to a career-high 202. "Obviously, when it's out of your control and you're sitting there watching, it kind of makes you go nuts." Jennings contributed to the craziness. The Rockies' big inning came partly because of six walks -- three by losing pitcher Noah Lowry (7-9), who walked three of the first five hitters and yielded Jamey Carroll's RBI single. Another run scored on Jamey Wright's wild pitch. Jeff Baker and Choo Freeman knocked two-run singles. Chris Iannetta drew a bases-loaded walk and added a needed RBI double in the seventh. But in the bottom of the fifth, Jennings gave up four runs, on RBI doubles by Munter, in his first career at-bat, and Shea Hillenbrand, and Bonds' two-run double. Jennings left with one out and two on in the sixth, only to be bailed out when Tom Martin forced a Todd Linden double-play grounder. "I've had some rough losses, so I'll take any kind of win I can get," Jennings said. "The first three innings, I threw the ball as well as I have for a long time. With the long inning we had, I don't want to use it as an excuse, but I had to find a way to get loose again and I was not the same guy." Because of the defensive work that occurred after he left, Jennings can get used to being the guy with the "W" next to his name.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.