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Walker breaks into homer column -- twice

4/15/2003

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks wanted Larry Walker in
the offseason. He reminded everyone why on Monday night.

The Colorado slugger drove in four runs with his first two
homers of the season and Nelson Cruz became the fourth Colorado
pitcher to win three games in April as the Rockies beat the
Diamondbacks 5-3.

Walker has struggled at the plate early in the season, and had
struck out twice before his three-run homer put Colorado up 4-0 in
the seventh inning.

There were scattered boos when he came to the plate as fans
remembered that he and Arizona's Matt Williams vetoed a trade that
would have brought Walker to the Diamondbacks. Walker said he has
no ill feelings against Arizona.

"Arizona's another team we've got to beat in order to get where
we want to go,'' he said. "I don't come in with a vendetta because
this didn't happen or that didn't happen or this was said in the
offseason.''

He was, however, motivated by his own discomfort.

"I've just been absolutely lost at the plate,'' Walker said.
"It's been like bringing marbles up there right now. It's tough to
see it, tough to hit them. I want it to be back to beach balls or
softballs or something.''

Cruz (3-0), who was supposed to be Colorado's long reliever but
moved into the rotation because of injuries to Denny Neagle and
Denny Stark, scattered four hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Cruz
is making a strong case that his move to the rotation should be more than just a stopgap measure.

"He pretty much put his foot down tonight,'' Rockies manager
Clint Hurdle said. "He's bought some time.''

The 30-year-old right-hander struck out three and walked three
in a tough pitching matchup with Arizona's Byung-Hyun Kim.

"I know what I can do,'' Cruz said, "and I'm happy that they
see I'm more than a one-inning guy.''

Diamondbacks rookie Lyle Overbay homered leading off the ninth
against Dan Miceli to ruin the shutout bid before Jose Jimenez came
on to get two outs for his fourth save in as many chances.

Craig Counsell added an RBI single and pinch-hitter Mark Grace
had a sacrifice fly, but Jimenez struck out Steve Finley with the
bases loaded to end it.

Kim (0-3), Arizona's closer before this season, gave up one run
-- Preston Wilson's solo homer -- on five hits through six innings
before leaving with a bruised right shin. He was struck in the shin
by a piece of Wilson's broken bat on a groundout leading off the
sixth.

Kim hopped around in pain, but finished the inning. He left the
game after he experienced swelling in the shin on the Arizona
bench. In his home debut as a starter, Kim struck out six and
walked two.

Manager Bob Brenly said the preliminary diagnosis was a deep
bruise. It wasn't known whether Kim would be able to make his next
scheduled start on Saturday.

Reliever Oscar Villarreal gave up a leadoff single to
pinch-hitter Chris Richard in the seventh. Richard advanced to
third on a pair of groundouts, then Todd Helton was walked
intentionally.

Rookie left-hander Stephen Randolph came on to pitch to Walker,
who smashed an 0-1 pitch 417 feet into the right-field seats to
make it 4-0.

"That's what he's down there for. He's one of our lefties and
we just thought that was the best matchup we could get in that
situation,'' Brenly said of Randolph. "Of the two lefties,
Helton's been swinging the bat better lately, so we took our
chances with Walker and got burned.''

Walker added an opposite-field solo homer off Mike Koplove in
the ninth.

The only other Rockies pitchers to go 3-0 in April were Brian
Bohanon in 1999 and Roger Bailey and Mark Thompson in 1997. Bohanon
went 4-0 in April. Cruz is the sixth pitcher to win his first three
starts in a Colorado uniform.

Colorado improved to 4-0 against Arizona this season and snapped
a nine-game losing streak at Bank One Ballpark. The Diamondbacks
fell to 3-10, their worst start since opening the 1998 expansion
season 2-13.

"Guys are going to keep grinding it out,'' Luis Gonzalez said.
"Eventually, we're going to turn this thing around, and we'll wind
up laughing about this later in the season.''

Game notes
Wilson has hit safely in 12 of Colorado's 13 games. ...
Overbay extended his hitting streak to seven games and has homered
twice. ... Two of Kim's three losses have been to Colorado. ... The
Rockies' 8-5 start is their best since 1997. ... The crowd of
25,688 was smaller than for any Arizona home game last season. The
franchise low was 23,057 against Florida on April 25, 2001.