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Helton, Hernandez hit homers for Colorado

4/10/2003

DENVER (AP) -- A strong outing by Shawn Chacon and the first triple play in their history couldn't get the Colorado Rockies over the hump. But clutch homers by Todd Helton and Jose Hernandez did.

Helton hit a solo homer and Hernandez added a two-run shot in the eighth inning, rallying the Rockies to a 7-6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.

The Rockies, winning for the sixth time in seven games, overcame
deficits of 2-0 and 6-4.

After a particularly ugly inning in the top of the eighth -- when
three Colorado errors contributed to four St. Louis runs -- the
Rockies refused to quit.

With one out in the Rockies half, Helton hit a solo homer, his third, off Lance Painter.

Painter injured his right hamstring while throwing a pitch to
Preston Wilson. Steve Kline (0-1) came in and threw ball four to
Wilson, and Hernandez then hit a 428-foot homer to right-center.

``His first four pitches were outside,'' Hernandez said. ``He
got behind in the count, 3-1, and I was thinking, I'm going to
swing anyhow. He threw me a fastball out over the plate, and I put
a good swing on it. I hit it good.''

Helton said the top of the inning ``could have been
demoralizing, but we've got guys who have been around, professional
hitters who know this field. We just battled. We're rolling pretty
good right now, and we hope it keeps going.''

Manager Clint Hurdle described his team as ``resilient.''

``We didn't roll over, we didn't fold,'' Hurdle said. ``I think
the guys who have been here awhile and the guys we brought in are
just tired of being kicked around. We've got a bunch of people who
are hungry.''

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he planned to use Kline in the ninth to get the save.

``With two outs, I didn't want to waste (Dustin) Hermanson for one hitter,'' La Russa said. ``Kline didn't keep the ball down very well, he fell behind and you saw what happened.''

Javier Lopez (1-0) got two outs for his first career win, and Jose Jimenez pitched the ninth for his second save.

Jim Edmonds drove in two runs for St. Louis, and Tino Martinez
had three hits.

Scott Rolen led off the Cardinals' eighth against reliever Todd
Jones with a single. Tino Martinez also singled, and Orlando
Palmeiro hit an RBI single. Jones fielded Mike Matheny's bunt and
attempted to throw out the lead runner at third but couldn't get
the ball out of his glove, for an error.

Third baseman Brent Butler, a defensive replacement that inning,
booted pinch-hitter Eli Marrero's grounder and then threw wild past
second base. The two errors allowed two runs to score. Edgar Renteria followed with an RBI single.

Colorado got a second straight strong outing from Chacon, who
departed with a 4-2 lead. Chacon went 6 2-3 innings, allowing seven
hits and two runs.

St. Louis' Garrett Stephenson allowed six hits and four runs in
six innings.

The Rockies' triple play in the sixth was the first in the
majors since last Sept. 13, by Tampa Bay against Toronto.

St. Louis put runners on first and second with no outs when
Orlando Palmeiro lined into a triple play. With both runners
moving, Helton caught the soft liner to first base and threw to
Hernandez, who was covering second. Hernandez stepped on the base
to double up Rolen, who had been on second, and then tagged out
Martinez, who had been on first.

``I've never seen a triple play, I don't think,'' Helton said. ``With both runners going and no one out, I knew when he hit it, it's a triple play. It was pretty simple.''

Chacon said he had ``never been a part of something so lucky in my life. That had the makings of a big inning for them.''

St. Louis went ahead 2-0 in the third on Edmonds' two-run single.

Stringing together four straight hits including three doubles, the Rockies took a 3-2 lead in the fourth.

Larry Walker tripled and scored on Hernandez's sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Both sides engaged in a war of words after Wednesday night's game, when Wilson stole a base in the eighth inning with his team leading 9-4. While Wilson argued that no lead is safe at Coors Field, the Cardinals accused the Rockies of piling it on and hinted at retaliation. There was none, however.

Game notes
Stephenson was attempting to win back-to-back starts for
the first time since August 2000. ... In his previous start, Chacon
had a perfect game through 5 1-3 innings, eventually going seven
innings in a 2-1 win over Arizona last Friday. ... St. Louis hit
into a triple play for the first time since May 31, 2000, against
Arizona.