Final

Series: Game 3 of 4

Arizona leads 3-0 (as of 9/28)

Game 1: Thursday, September 26
Colorado 2Final
Arizona 4
Game 2: Friday, September 27
Colorado 6Final
Arizona 8
Game 3: Saturday, September 28
Colorado 8Final
Arizona 17
Game 4: Sunday, September 29
Colorado 8Final
Arizona 11

Rockies 8

(73-88, 26-54 away)

Diamondbacks 17

(97-64, 54-26 home)

    4:05 PM ET, September 28, 2002

    Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona 

    123456789 R H E
    COL 002001050 8 - -
    ARI 10042433 - 17 - -

    W: R. Helling (10-12)

    L: S. Lowe (5-3)

    Finley, Williams each homer twice in rout

    PHOENIX (AP) -- With a record-tying offensive outburst, the Arizona Diamondbacks are NL West champions again.

    Byung-Hyun Kim

    Byung-Hyun Kim, right, is congratulated by Curt Schilling after the Diamondbacks clinched the NL West title.

    The team that built its reputation with pitching clinched its second straight division title, and third in four years, with parade of five home runs in a 17-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday.

    Matt Williams and Steve Finley each homered twice as the World Series champions, who are aiming for a repeat despite the loss of Luis Gonzalez, Craig Counsell and Brian Anderson to season-ending injuries.

    "This is the first of four parties,'' Mark Grace said. "We're winners of the best division in the National League.''

    The 17 runs tied a club record that had been reached three previous times, the last at St. Louis on April 17, 2001.

    "We had that six-game losing streak and I told everybody to be patient, that this game runs in cycles, these guys are going to start swinging the bats better,'' manager Bob Brenly said. "It was just an explosion today.''

    The Diamondbacks celebrated the title with handshakes and hugs on the field. Champagne flowed in the clubhouse, where the mood was happy, but subdued.

    "They know that the toughest road is about to start -- 162 games is a long way to go,'' Brenly said. "To get to this position obviously is what we were shooting for, but we've got a bigger goal in mind.''

    Arizona will face NL Central champion St. Louis in the first round of the playoffs starting Tuesday. It has not yet been decided where the series will begin.

    "You can have a good night and celebrate tonight,'' champagne-drenched Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said, "but tomorrow we have an important baseball game. We expected a subdued kind of event, because we've been there and we've done it, and our expectations are much higher than what was accomplished here today.''

    Arizona leads St. Louis by one game for home-field advantage with one game to play. The Cardinals hold the tiebreaker in case the teams end up even. The Diamondbacks will send rookie John Patterson to the mound on Sunday.

    "Now we need to win tomorrow and win home-field advantage,'' Randy Johnson said. "You'd rather start at home in a five-game series. In a seven-game series, I don't think it really matters.''

    Williams matched his career-high with four hits and drove in three runs in his first multiple-homer game since Aug. 16, 1999.

    Rod Barajas was 4-for-5 with a pair of two-run doubles -- his first big league four-RBI game. Finley hit his 24th and 25th homers and drove in five runs.

    Felix Jose also homered as Arizona tied its franchise record with its five home runs in a game.

    Jay Bell, the first free agent to sign with Arizona back in 1998, had a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth. Bell, who says he probably will retire after this season, got a standing ovation when he was replaced for a pinch-runner.

    "To me, that was the coolest part of the whole afternoon,'' said Williams, Bell's teammate all five years in Arizona.

    Shortstop Jason Romano's two throwing errors, one on a routine double-play grounder, helped the Diamondbacks score four runs for a 5-2 lead in the fourth inning.

    Romano also struck out three times and botched another double play, but did rob Williams of a fifth hit with a diving stop in the fifth.

    After losing the last six on a nine-game road trip, Arizona won its third in a row over Colorado, which dropped to 1-8 at Bank One Ballpark this season.

    "They did a fine job. They're to be commended,'' Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said of the Diamondbacks, "but there is still a lot riding on tomorrow's game.''

    Rick Helling (10-12) allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings, struck out six and walked none.

    "This was the reason that I came here, the opportunity to play in the playoffs, on a quality team, in a quality organization,'' Helling said. "This is what it's all about. The real season starts now. I think everybody in this clubhouse believed from day one of spring training that October was when our real season starts.''

    Gabe Kapler hit a two-run homer and Todd Zeile a solo shot for the Rockies, who set a club record with their 54th road loss. Sandy Alomar Jr. was 4-for-4 with an RBI.

    Kapler's homer, after Juan Pierre's single, gave Colorado a 2-1 lead in the third.

    Sean Lowe (5-3) took the loss.

    Game notes


    Struggling Arizona reliever Mike Myers threw 25 pitches to left-handed batters before the game, and pitching coach Chuck Kniffen thought he spotted a flaw in the left-hander's mechanics. Myers pitched a perfect seventh ... Helling allowed 31 home runs this season, one shy of the NL lead. ... Arizona hadn't scored this many runs since beating Los Angeles 14-3 on May 25. ... Finley has 20 career multiple-homer games, two this season. ... Williams reached 1,200 career RBI.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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