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08/16/08 2:20 AM ET

Hawpe's homer helps Rox beat Nats

Outfielder has tiebreaking shots in Colorado's past two wins

WASHINGTON -- Before Friday night's 4-3 victory over the Nationals, Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe said, "This time of year for all players is a grind."

For Hawpe, it's certainly a fine grind.

Hawpe broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run homer off Tim Redding (8-8). A Hawpe home run had also given the Rockies their previous victory, on Wednesday night over the D-backs.

Since July 5, Hawpe has hit .438 (50-for-114), with nine of his 20 home runs and 30 of his 65 RBIs.

"You realize it's just as tough for the guy on the mound as it is for you at the plate," Hawpe said. "You know that he's going through the same thing you're going through. I try to look at it as, 'Well, I'm not as tired as this guy,' and psyche myself up."

The Rockies certainly needed some psyching. They're still mathematically alive in the National League West, but their just-completed homestand was a real downer.

They went 3-7, with five losses against the National League's two worst teams -- the Nationals and the Padres -- and two losses in three games against the contending D-Backs, who are neck-and-neck with the Dodgers atop the division.

Now, at least, the Rockies have an encouraging start to a six-game road trip. The Nationals, meanwhile, have dropped eight straight since sweeping the Rockies in a doubleheader on Aug. 7.

The Rockies trailed, 2-1, on Friday when Seth Smith kept the fifth inning alive with a two-out single. Matt Holliday, who also has been a consistent offensive force, lined a Redding pitch over the head of Nationals center fielder Lastings Milledge -- who originally broke inward -- for an RBI double. Hawpe followed with his homer.

Hawpe hit .316 during last September's drive to the playoffs, so providing a lift as the season progresses is nothing new.

"Brad has been in one of the most consistent zones he's been in offensively in a long time," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's got a history of being somewhat streaky. This has just been consistent."

Hawpe's homers are becoming increasingly common. Troy Tulowitzki, who homered 24 times last year, has been strangely quiet during an injury-plagued season. But Tulowtizki knocked an elevated Redding fastball for his fourth homer of the season -- and first since July 2 -- in the third inning.

"The guys were joking that he forgot his home run trot, it has been so long," Hurdle said.

Meanwhile, left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (6-6) has become surprisingly dependable for the Rockies.

De La Rosa, recently used as a spot starter, was starting for the first time since beating the Nationals on Aug. 5 -- the Rockies' only victory of the four-game set. He has won four of his last five starts.

"I was a reliever before, and I've been a starter," De La Rosa said. "I can do whatever they want me to do."

De La Rosa's command can come and go, though, and Friday was more of the same. He gave up six hits, walked three and fired two wild pitches in six innings. At times, catcher Chris Iannetta played a hockey goalie, blocking nearly as many balls as he caught. But De La Rosa also struck out seven and held the Nationals to three runs.

Manuel Corpas and Taylor Buchholz each pitched one inning and had a baserunner but no further damage. Brian Fuentes struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth for his 23rd save.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.