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Pirates tie game in ninth, only to fall in 10

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Colorado Rockies are downright awful on
the road this season, and worse still in extra innings. On a night
they seemingly had every excuse to lose yet again, they somehow
found a way to win.

Todd Helton hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the 10th inning off
Jose Mesa after Pittsburgh had tied it in the ninth, and the
Rockies came back after squandering a three-run lead to beat the
Pirates 5-3 on Friday night.

Aaron Miles singled off Mesa (1-6) with one out ahead of
Helton's drive into the right-field seats, which gave Colorado its
first extra-inning victory in four attempts this season. David
Cortes then pitched the 10th in his first career save opportunity,
allowing singles by Jose Castillo and Humberto Cota to start the
inning.

Helton went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and is 26-for-63 (.413)
in July. His .381 career average against Pittsburgh is the
second-best among major league hitters, trailing only Jeff
Cirillo's .396.

"A big hit off one of the better closers going," Rockies
manager Clint Hurdle said. "You don't get a bigger hit than
that."

Pardon Hurdle's enthusiasm, given the Rockies' inability to win
regularly away from Coors Field until they took two of three in
Washington earlier this week. They dropped all but seven of their
first 43 road games, the worst such start by an NL team since the
1963 New York Mets opened 7-44 on the road.

"Some things have happened lately on this trip -- one-run
victories," Hurdle said, recalling the 5-4 and 3-2 wins in RFK
Stadium. "Then to come back from a missed opportunity to close it
out, that's big."

The Rockies reached double digits in road victories -- they're
10-38 -- long after most teams have won 20 times on the road. Only
Cincinnati (11-31) among NL teams is close to being as bad away
from home as Colorado.

Colorado hasn't won a series in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened
in 2001 but, as evidenced by his average, Helton must like hitting
there. The former Tennessee quarterback visited with his former
coach, Johnny Majors, who is now on Pitt's athletic department
staff.

"I enjoy playing here, I love the city and the ballpark,"
Helton said. "We've had some disappointments this year, especially
on the road, so it was good to pull out a victory."

Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon wasn't happy with the pitch
Helton hit: a slider from Mesa that stayed over the plate.
McClendon had just told Cota, the catcher, to keep the ball down
and away from Helton.

"That's not the pitch we wanted in that situation," McClendon
said.

The Pirates were 3-47 when trailing after eight innings, but
tied it against All-Star closer Brian Fuentes (2-3) in the ninth on
Matt Lawton's RBI single. The Pirates loaded the bases with one out
as Fuentes blew only his second save opportunity in his last 16,
but the left-hander struck out rookie Brad Eldred and Rob Mackowiak
in succession.

Eldred, making his major league debut, singled up the middle in
the first and went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts. He was promoted
after hitting 28 homers in 75 games in the minors.

Eldred could have driven in the winning run if only he could
have lifted the ball to the outfield or grounded it anywhere but
directly to an infielder.

"It's definitely a situation you want to be in," he said. "I
went up there hacking. It's one of those things."

Pittsburgh trailed 3-0 following Matt Holiday's solo homer in
the fourth, his fifth, and Garrett Atkins' two-run double in the
sixth against Kip Wells. But Jason Bay doubled in a run in the
Pirates' sixth following five scoreless innings by Jamey Wright,
and Mackowiak had a run-scoring grounder to make it 3-2.

Game notes
Holliday went 2-for-2 against Wells and is 5-for-7 with two
homers and three RBI against the right-hander. ... Wells struck
out seven and walked one, but didn't get the decision after losing
six of his last seven. ... The Pirates lost their sixth in seven
games and ninth in 11. They are 2-8 since the All-Star break. ...
SS Jack Wilson and 2B Castillo teamed to make an exceptional
defensive play to retire Atkins in the ninth. Wilson went to his
stomach to stop Atkins' ball up the middle, shuttled it to Castillo
with his glove hand and Castillo threw to first for the out.