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Schilling fails to win No. 24 on second attempt

9/21/2002

DENVER (AP) -- Taking advantage of a rare "speed bump'' by
Arizona's Curt Schilling, the Colorado Rockies delayed the
Diamondbacks' drive toward the NL West title.

Schilling matched his career worst by giving up eight earned
runs, allowing a tiebreaking homer to Todd Helton in the fifth
inning and a four-run eighth as the Rockies prevailed 9-4 Friday
night.

Schilling failed in his second straight attempt at 24 wins, and
the Diamondbacks' magic number for clinching the NL West remained
at three. Second-place San Francisco beat Milwaukee 5-1 to cut
Arizona's lead to 6½ games.

Schilling (23-6) allowed a career-worst 14 hits and gave up
eight earned runs for the third time in his career. The nine runs
allowed were two shy of his career worst, damaging his hopes for
his first career Cy Young Award.

Schilling, who remained tied with teammate Randy Johnson for the
most wins in the majors, had his ERA rise from 2.81 to 3.02.

"It was a horrible night,'' Schilling said. "I just wasn't
making pitches. Every time we got in the game, I let them back
ahead.

"Of course, I'm frustrated. I gave up 14 hits and nine runs. I
have a lot of pride in what I do. I felt fine, there's no reason to
not think that I will get the job done.''

Arizona manager Bob Brenly said Schilling "wasn't his usual
self tonight. He didn't have his usual crisp stuff. He has set the
bar pretty doggone high this year. He's entitled to a couple of
speed bumps. I'm not concerned for his next start, and hopefully he
isn't either.''

Outfielder Luis Gonzalez said Schilling and Johnson "are
humans. As much as we put the weight on their shoulders, we know
they're not going to be invincible every time out.

"We're still sitting on top of our division, and we like our
chances of wrapping this thing up.''

The Rockies scored four runs in the eighth, chasing Schilling
with four straight one-out singles. Brent Butler had a two-run
single. The third run scored on reliever Mike Fetters' wild pickoff
throw to first, and Helton added an RBI groundout.

Gonzalez had a two-run homer and drove in three runs for
Arizona, giving him 100 RBI for the fourth straight season.

Helton led off the fifth with a 429-foot shot to center to put
Colorado up 5-4. It was Helton's 29th homer of the season and also
gave him his fourth straight 100-RBI season.

Left-hander Randy Flores, making his first career start after
five relief appearances since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado
Springs on Sept. 1, allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3
innings.

Sean Lowe (5-2) pitched 1 1/3 innings to earn the victory.

"Obviously, I don't think Schilling was on top of his game,''
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "When he's bad, he's still
good. You've still got to beat him with the bat. You never have an
easy night against him.''

The Rockies got three runs off Schilling in the first, including
Todd Zeile's two-run single.

Juan Pierre, who had four hits, led off with a bunt single but
was erased on Jay Payton's fielder's choice grounder. Helton
singled and Larry Walker walked to load the bases. Zeile singled to
right. With two outs, Gary Bennett hit an RBI single up the middle.

The Diamondbacks battled back to tie it. Quinton McCracken had
an RBI double in the second. Greg Colbrunn doubled and scored on
Gonzalez's 28th homer in the third.

Bennett singled again in the fourth and Juan Uribe also singled.
Pierre hit a run-scoring double into the right-field corner.

With two outs in the Arizona fifth, Colbrunn doubled again off
the left-field wall. After Junior Spivey walked, Gonzalez hit an
RBI single to center, chasing Flores.

Game notes
Rockies ace Mike Hampton won't pitch again this season.
Hampton has missed his last two starts because of a strained
ligament in his right foot. ... Payton was back in the lineup, nine
days after straining his right oblique muscle. ... Rockies players
greeted fans at the gates to Coors Field for 15 minutes before the
game. ... Colorado LHP Kent Mercker began serving a three-game
suspension for throwing at the Mets' Timo Perez on Aug. 25. ... The
Rockies, who had drawn an average of about 26,000 over their
previous 15 home dates, drew 37,842 on their third Fireworks Night
of the season.