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Holliday's punch leads Rockies past Nats

• Summary: Matt Holliday went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double, driving in three as Colorado completed a sweep of Washingon.

• Hero: Holliday boosted his National League-leading batting average to .338 and belted his 24th homer of the season, highlighting a six-run third inning during which the Rockies sent 11 batters to the plate. Holliday's two-run shot made it 9-1 and chased Nationals starter Joel Hanrahan.

• Figure this: All 10 Colorado runs were scored with two outs.

• Wasted effort: Proving a boost to the middle of the Nationals' lineup, Austin Kearns and Ryans Church drove in two runs apiece from the Nos. 5 and 6 spots. Kearns scored on Church's two-run home run in the seventh and followed with a two-run double in the eighth.

• Quotable: "We're just trying to find a way to be one run better than the other from here on out.'' -- Rockies manager Clint Hurdle

-- ESPN.com news services

Rockies 10, Nationals 5

DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado Rockies may be playing meaningful
games in September for the first time in more than a decade.

Matt Holliday homered, doubled and drove in three runs, and the
Colorado Rockies finished off a sweep of the Washington Nationals
with a 10-5 win on Sunday, clinching at least a .500 mark on Sept.
1 for the second time since 1996.

"Right now we're playing pretty well,'' Holliday said. "If our
pitching continues to give us a chance, our offense is going to be
strong down the stretch.''

The Rockies finished off a seven-game homestand against Pittsburgh and Washington, two teams well under .500, at 4-3.
Things looked bleak after losing three of four to the Pirates,
especially when they trailed the Nationals 5-1 in the ninth inning
in the series opener Friday night.

But then Holliday hit a two-run homer, sparking a five-run rally
in the ninth inning that gave the Rockies a 6-5 win.

Colorado heads out for a six-game road trip to San Francisco and
NL West-leading Arizona on Monday.

The Rockies (67-63) have four more games before Sept. 1. They've
been at or above .500 just once since 1996, when they were 69-65 in
2000. But that year, they were already 8 1/2 back in the NL West and
9 1/2 games off the pace in the wild-card race.

After Sunday's win, Colorado was 3 1/2 games behind San Diego for
the wild card, and 6 1/2 games behind Arizona in the NL West.

"We're just trying to find a way to be one run better than the
other from here on out,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

Elmer Dessens (2-1) gave up a run and three hits in six innings
for his first Colorado win.

Holliday and Todd Helton had three hits each, and
Troy Tulowitzki drove in three runs for the Rockies. Chris Iannetta,
called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs late Saturday night, went
2-for-5 with an RBI in his return.

Dessens helped himself at the plate, walking twice and scoring
on
Kaz Matsui
's two-run double in the third inning to go along with
his best start with Colorado. In his previous two starts for the
Rockies, he lasted 4 2/3 innings.

After giving up a run in the first inning, Dessens found a
groove, retiring 15 of the next 17 batters, including the last 10
he faced. It was Dessens' first win as a starter since April 25,
2004, with Arizona against San Diego.

"I felt pretty good after the first inning, and then we came
out and got some runs,'' Dessens said. "I relaxed and kept my
pitching count down. When you have a big lead, you focus and throw
down in the zone.''

The Rockies sent 11 batters to the plate in the third inning and
scored six runs, highlighted by Holliday's 24th homer of the
season, a two-run shot that made it 9-1 and chased starter
Joel Hanrahan.

All 10 Colorado runs were scored with two outs.

Hanrahan (3-2) struggled to find the strike zone in the second
inning, leading to two Rockies runs. Hanrahan walked the bases
loaded, and Tulowitzki singled home Ryan Spilborghs. Hanrahan
walked Holliday to make it 3-1, but he escaped further damage when
he got Helton to foul out on a 3-2 count.

"He just had a very rough outing. He couldn't throw strikes,''
Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "He couldn't even throw strikes
to the pitcher, which really hurt him.''

Ryan Church and Austin Kearns tried to rally the Nationals after
Ramon Ortiz relieved Dessens. Church hit a two-run homer in the
seventh and Kearns had a two-run double in the eighth that made it
9-5. Kearns was stranded at second when reliever Matt Herges got
Church to fly out to right field to end the eighth.

Ryan Zimmerman gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead with a two-out,
solo home run in the first inning. The Rockies tied it in the
bottom of the inning on Helton's two-out single that scored
Holliday from second base.

"Zim got it started and I think we all thought that we were
going to have a better day,'' Kearns said. "We just couldn't get
anything going.''

Game notes

Zimmerman's 21 home runs are a career high. ... Holliday
extended his hit streak to 16 games -- a career best -- with a double
in the first inning. His is the longest current hitting streak in
the majors. ... Tulowitzki's single in the second inning gives him
a career-high 11-game hitting streak. ... Helton has a .394 career
average against the Nationals/Montreal Expos organization.