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Rockies score three times in ninth to edge Padres

4/19/2003

DENVER (AP) -- Without Trevor Hoffman, the ninth inning is no
sure thing for the San Diego Padres.

Ronnie Belliard drove in the winning run with a squeeze bunt
that capped a three-run, rally as the Colorado Rockies beat the San
Diego Padres 10-9 Saturday after wasting a seven-run lead.

Brandon Villafuerte, one of three relievers the Padres have been
using to close, tried to hold a 9-7 margin in the ninth. Hoffman,
San Diego's regular closer, is sidelined until the All-Star break
following his second shoulder operation.

"There were some strange things happening out there without
him," San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said. "It didn't help that we
walked the leadoff hitter in the ninth and made some other
mistakes."

Trailing by two runs, the Rockies rallied for two runs off
Villafuerte (0-2), who relieved Jesse Orosco to start the ninth
inning and blew a save for the first time in three chances.

Preston Wilson walked leading off and took third on a single by
Jose Hernandez. Bobby Estalella hit an RBI grounder to second
baseman Lou Merloni, who threw wildly to second for an error.

Brent Butler bunted back to the pitcher, who got the forceout at
third, and Chris Stynes, batting for Steve Reed (2-0), singled to
right to drive in the tying run. Belliard then bunt to first, and
Butler scored on the infield single as Klesko's throw went into the
dugout.

"Even if they didn't give me the sign, I was going to be
looking for that, trying for a push run because they were playing
for a double play," Belliard said.

Rockies starter Nelson Cruz, trying to become the NL's first
four-game winner, allowed three runs and six hits in five innings.
Larry Walker had three RBIs for the Rockies, who outhit San Diego
15-13.

Colorado improved to 7-1 at home but is just 4-6 on the road.

Ryan Klesko homered twice and had five RBIs for San Diego, which
overcame a 7-0 deficit to take a 9-7 lead only to lose its fourth
straight. It was the 20th career multihomer game for Klesko.

"The game came down to our lack of execution," said Mark
Kotsay, who hit a two-run homer for the Padres. "We didn't execute
fundamentally and had costly errors late in the game."

Rain interrupted the game for 1 hour, 57 minutes in the bottom
of the first. Colorado took a 5-0 lead in the inning.

Walker hit a two-run single, Estalella hit a two-run double and
Greg Norton had an RBI double. Walker tripled home a run in the
second and Cruz had a two-out, run-scoring single in the third.

Kotsay and Klesko hit consecutive homers in the fourth as the
Padres closed to 7-3. Klesko greeted Todd Jones in the eighth with
a three-run homer that made it 7-6. Jones then walked Rondell
White, and Sean Burroughs homered off the top of the 20-foot wall
in right to put San Diego ahead 8-7. Klesko added an RBI single in
the ninth off Reed.

San Diego's Jaret Wright pitched 1 1-3 innings in relief of
starter Clay Condrey, who allowed seven runs and nine hits in four
innings.

Game notes
Because of rain, both teams canceled batting practice. ...
Padres C Michael Rivera made his first start this year. ... San
Diego hit back-to-back homers for the first time this season. ...
Padres RHP Luther Hackman continues to pitch despite a cut in the
his right index finger. ... Estalella tied a club record by
throwing out his fourth straight baserunner. ... Cruz, a career
.069 hitter (2-for-29), had his second hit and RBI.

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