Helton drives in three Colorado runs

DENVER (AP) -- After a month of nibbling near the corners, Shawn
Estes decided to be more aggressive. He figured if he was going to
get beat, it was going to be in the strike zone.

That approach proved to be just what he -- and the Colorado
Rockies -- needed.

Estes allowed two runs in seven innings for his first win in a
month, and Todd Helton drove in three runs to help Colorado beat
the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 Friday night.

Estes (7-3) had been stuck on six wins since beating Cincinnati
on May 18, in part because he was trying to be too fine. Taking a
more aggressive approach with his fastball, he worked through a few
tough spots against the Orioles to move within one win of his total
last season with the Chicago Cubs.

"Tonight, I was going to get beat throwing the ball in the
zone, that was my mentality," Estes said. "It's amazing what
happens when you keep the ball in the zone -- you get more outs and
less walks."

A cold, misty night helped, keeping the scoring down between the
teams with the highest ERAs in each league.

The Rockies got eight hits off Sidney Ponson (3-9) and scored
five runs off him to win for the third time in four games.

Rafael Palmeiro hit career home run No. 538 and Jerry Hairston
was a homer short of the cycle, but the rest of the Orioles managed
just five hits in losing their sixth straight.

"It seems like things aren't going our way," Hairston said.

Estes had a lot to do with it.

The left-hander gave up at least one hit in each of the first
six innings, including Palmeiro's 10th homer on a hanging curveball
to open the fourth, but worked his way out of trouble.

Estes stranded two runners in both the second and fourth
innings, then got Javy Lopez to hit into an inning-ending double
play on a comebacker with the bases loaded in the fifth.

Estes allowed a run in the sixth on a groundout, but clearly got
a confidence boost from the home-to-first double play in the fifth.

"There is nothing better from our perspective when you have the
bases loaded than to get that 1-2-3 double play," Rockies manager
Clint Hurdle said. "It doesn't happen very often and when you do
see it, it breaks somebody's back. That was the pitch of the

Shawn Chacon worked the ninth for his 13th save in 18 chances
and third straight after blowing three opportunities in a row. He
allowed a solo homer to pinch-hitter David Newhan, who was signed
earlier in the day after being released by Texas.

The Rockies gave Chacon room to make a mistake by taking
advantage of their opportunities against Ponson.

Colorado got a run in the first inning on Helton's groundout
after Royce Clayton tripled, and another in the fourth on Vinny
Castilla's RBI double.

The Rockies got three more runs off Ponson in the fifth inning
on Clayton's single and Helton's two-run double to go up 5-1.

Ponson was solid in his seven innings, allowing four earned
runs, but still lost his sixth straight decision. He dropped to 0-5
on the road this season.

"Sidney threw well," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "We
had opportunities to back him and missed."

Ponson was better than he has been -- 26 runs the previous 24
innings -- but Baltimore's injury problems got worse.

The Orioles placed right-hander Rick Bauer on the 15-day
disabled list with elbow nerve irritation and left fielder B.J.
Surhoff came out in the fourth inning with a strained left calf.

Leading hitter Melvin Mora also missed his first game of the
season after spraining a ligament in his left foot Thursday against
Los Angeles, and outfielder Luis Matos sat out with sore ribs.
First baseman David Segui (knee), outfielder Marty Cordova (knee)
and left-hander Omar Daal (shoulder) are still on the disabled

"Right now we are down to one position player and a backup,"
Mazzilli said.

Colorado's news on the injury front was a little better.

Center fielder Preston Wilson returned to the lineup ahead of
schedule after missing 58 games because of knee surgery. Last
year's NL RBI leader went 0-for-4, but he made a couple of running
catches in the field and a diving attempt at a ball in the gap.

"He didn't hold back any tonight, not in any area," Hurdle
said. "It was real good to have him back."

Game notes
The start was delayed 27 minutes by rain. ... Trainers
attended to Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts for several minutes in the
second inning after he was hit on the wrist while diving for a line
drive by Matt Holliday, but Roberts stayed in the game. ...
Helton's double in the fifth inning was the 300th of his career.