<
>

Helton breaks Rockies record for homers

DENVER (AP) -- With one home run for the record and another for
the win, Todd Helton brought some long-missing magic back to Coors
Field, at least for a day.

It helped that Helton and the Colorado Rockies were facing the
Los Angeles Dodgers, one of those rare teams that has more problems
than the Rockies do right now.

Helton broke the franchise home-run record with a shot to the
upper deck, then broke a tie game with a three-run homer in the
seventh inning, leading the Rockies to a come-from-behind 8-5
victory Thursday.

"I care more about what it did to help us win this game,"
Helton said about his eighth and ninth homers of the season.
"That's more important than breaking a record that someone else is
going to break someday."

Helton's first shot was just the 26th to make the upper deck at
Coors Field. It trimmed a one-time 5-0 deficit to 5-3 in the sixth
inning and gave him 259 homers for his career to break the record
he had briefly shared with Larry Walker.

An inning later, Helton made it 8-5 with a shot off Franquelis
Osoria in a sequence that encapsulated just how snakebitten the
injury-riddled Dodgers have been this season.

With the left-handed Helton coming up, manager Jim Tracy came
out to get left-hander Kelly Wunsch from the bullpen. But as Wunsch
threw his last warmup pitch, he sprained his right ankle and had to
be carted into the clubhouse.

"From an injury standpoint, that's probably about the tip of
the iceberg," Tracy said.

Just this week, the Dodgers have placed J.D. Drew (wrist) and
Cesar Izturis (hamstring) on the disabled list and lost Jeff Kent
to a hamstring injury that has left him "day-to-day." Wunsch's
injury, which will be re-evaluated Friday, simply added to the
misery and may have been the strangest of all.

"That's a first for me," Tracy said.

With Wunsch unavailable, Osoria, a right-hander, came in on
short notice and delivered the home-run pitch, making a loser out
of Giovanni Carrara (6-3).

The win went to Mike DeJean (4-1), who pitched a scoreless
inning after being signed earlier in the day by the Rockies.

Colorado's only All-Star, Brian Fuentes, pitched the ninth for
his 11th save in 13 tries and capped Colorado's biggest comeback
victory of the season.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle attributed the rally to the "anger
factor," possibly the result of being held to one hit over the
first four innings by Dodgers starter Derek Lowe. After his strong
start, Lowe allowed five runs in six-plus innings and failed to
earn his first road win of the season.

"They don't stop playing," Hurdle said. "They haven't stopped
playing all year. Some days they play better than others, but they
play the game, and they play the game until it's over."

While the Rockies still have the worst record in the National
League, nobody is feeling much lower than the Dodgers right now.
After the split of the four-game series in Denver, they have lost
16 of 23, with the injuries still piling up.

Helton, meanwhile, is pulling out of arguably the biggest slump
of his career in a big way. He finished with two hits and is now
24-for-59 over the last 16 games. He is batting .281, still 58
points below his career average, but about 20 points better than a
month ago.

"I feel good at the plate," Helton said. "I feel like I have
a chance when I step into the box now, where earlier in the year I
didn't feel good when I stepped in."

His homer was part of a wild sequence that included the freak
injury to Wunsch, a warning to both benches when Osoria nearly hit
Garrett Atkins after Helton's homer and, in the next inning, the
near injury to Rockies owner Dick Monfort, who got nicked by a bat
that went flying into the stands when Dodgers pinch hitter Hee-Seop
Choi lost control.

"I didn't even get to keep the bat," Monfort joked.

The Colorado comeback got Rockies starter Joe Kennedy off the
hook. Still, Kennedy allowed five runs in the first two innings and
saw his ERA balloon above 7 -- not a good sign for the opening-day
starter whose days in the rotation, or maybe on the roster, could
be numbered.

Jason Repko had a career-high four hits, all singles, for Los
Angeles.

Game notes
Kent didn't play and stayed stuck on 1,998 career hits. ...
Oscar Robles went 2-for-4 for Los Angeles to extend his hitting
streak to nine games. ... Helton joined Adam LaRoche of Atlanta as
the only two players to reach the upper deck this season.