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Struggling righty finds form at Coors

DENVER (AP) -- Shortly before his first start at Coors Field,
Derek Lowe told catcher Jason Varitek he didn't want to throw any
curveballs.

Lowe missed his goal by one, but he sure had the right idea.

Sticking mostly with his fastball and sinker at the
hitter-friendly park, Lowe pitched four-hit ball for seven innings
in the 25th shutout in Coors Field history Thursday to help the
Boston Red Sox avoid a sweep with an 11-0 victory over the Colorado
Rockies.

Lowe threw just one curveball -- to Todd Helton -- and three other
breaking balls, choosing to negate the affects of the Mile High air
at Coors by changing speeds instead of with movement.

"The air doesn't really affect the change of speed, so if you
can throw a sinker and a changeup you'll have a lot more success
than the breaking ball because the breaking balls are the ones that
spin," Lowe said. "You've got to give yourself the best chance to
have success and throwing breaking balls isn't the right way to
go."

It certainly was effective this time.

Working quickly in his 100th career start, Lowe (6-5) allowed
three hits and no runners past second base through the first five
innings. Colorado had runners on second and third in the sixth, but
Lowe got Matt Holliday on a groundout to end the inning.

One of baseball's best groundball pitchers, Lowe allowed just
two flyballs and struck out three for his third win in four starts.
He has allowed two runs in 19 innings his past three starts after
giving up 19 the previous 13 1-3 innings.

Lowe was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth after throwing
93 pitches on a cool, rainy afternoon.

"You're supposed to fail here, you're supposed to give up a lot
of runs, you're supposed to give up hits," said Lowe, who hasn't
allowed a run in 14 innings. "Maybe the weather helped. It was
cold and rainy. I guess if you're going to have any chance of
pitching well, it was today."

Lowe got plenty of help from his teammates, too.

David Ortiz hit his 14th homer and drove in a career high five
runs, Nomar Garciaparra had three hits and the Red Sox finished
with 14 hits for their third win in nine road games.

Scott Williamson worked the eighth inning and Lenny DiNardo the
ninth to finish the six-hitter, the first shutout at Coors since
three Houston pitchers did it last Sept. 18. It was just the second
time in 400 home games the Rockies failed to score.

"The altitude didn't effect his sinker," Rockies manager Clint
Hurdle said of Lowe. "He pitched effective, he stayed ahead in the
count, he pitched efficiently -- all those things you want to see."

A steady rain started falling in the second inning, but it
didn't dampen the spirits of another boisterous crowd.

Just like the series' first two games, about half the crowd was
filled with Red Sox fans who tried to make their team feel at home.
The cheering started with the first batter and several chants of
"Let's Go Red Sox!" rang out throughout the game, including twice
in the second inning.

Rockies fans did their best to drown out the chants in the
second, but couldn't overcome the roar that came a few minutes
later when Pokey Reese lined a two-run single up the middle off
Aaron Cook (1-2).

Boston's fans started up again in the fifth inning, when Ortiz
made it 3-0 with a hard single that shortstop Royce Clayton
couldn't handle.

It got even louder in the seventh when Ortiz hit a two-run homer
to the second deck in right off Kevin Jarvis to put the Red Sox up
5-0. Ortiz added a two-run double in Boston's three-run eighth,
finishing 3-for-5.

"We got beat really badly the first two days. We had to come
back and win some games," Ortiz said. "They hadn't been playing
too good and they came out of nowhere to beat us twice. We had to
put something together to win the last game."

Cook had some shaky moments, particularly in the second inning,
but worked his way through most of the trouble. He allowed three
runs and six hits in five innings after giving up 13 runs in 10 1-3
innings his past two starts.

"Today, I was kind of being effectively wild," said Cook, who
struck out a career-high seven. "I was trying to come in on some
of those pitches and they were getting away from me. I just had to
come back with a couple of strikes after that."

Game notes
Garciaparra was 3-for-5 with a triple after manager Terry
Francona decided against giving him the day off. ... Jarvis allowed
six runs in one-plus inning in his season debut for the Rockies.
... Boston's Johnny Damon stole second for the second straight
game, giving him eight this season. He also has scored or had an
RBI in 12 straight games. ... Reese was 2-for-3 after missing two
games with a strained toe. ... Boston has doubled in 41 straight
games, the longest streak since Tampa Bay had 46 straight from
2001-02.