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Rockies secure winning record for All-Star break

7/12/2003

DENVER (AP) -- Greg Norton has made his mark in Colorado with
clutch pinch-hits.

This time, it was the pitches he didn't hit that helped the
Rockies.

Norton fouled off two tough pitches and laid off three other
close ones to draw a bases loaded walk in the eighth inning as the
Colorado Rockies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-6 Friday night.

"Norty's at-bat was really unbelievable," said Colorado's Todd
Helton, who had two homers. "For Norton to foul off the fastballs
outside and then take inside on the last pitch, that was really a
big league at-bat. It's a lot harder than it looks to draw that
walk."

The Rockies blew an early 5-1 lead with three costly errors, but
manufactured the winning run in the eighth with three quality
at-bats.

Helton opened the inning with a four-pitch walk off Paul Shuey
(3-2), then Preston Wilson hit a single to left on a 1-2 count.
Larry Walker grounded out to first to advance the runners, then Jay
Payton was intentionally walked by Tom Martin to load the bases.

Norton came in as a pinch-hitter and quickly fell behind 0-2 to
Paul Quantrill. He took the next pitch for a ball, then fouled off
a tough pitch on the outside corner.

The Dodgers thought they had Norton on an inside fastball, but
it was called a ball.

"It looked awfully good to me," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy
said. "I've seen him throw several like it and get called third
strikes."

Norton followed by fouling off another tough pitch, then took
two more -- both close to the strike zone -- to give Colorado its
seventh win in 11 games.

"It was just going up there and trying to battle," said
Norton, who is second only to Lenny Harris of the Chicago Cubs in
pinch-hits the past two seasons. "Getting down 0-2, I just tried
to get the ball in play or do something in a big situation. I was
fortunate that they called it a ball and I drew the walk."

Jay Payton had three RBI for Colorado, which will enter the
All-Star break with a winning record (49-46) for just the third
time in franchise history.

The Dodgers continued their torrid hitting, but still lost for
the 11th time in 14 games.

The NL's worst hitting team had 13 hits after getting 26 in a
pair of wins over St. Louis. Adrian Beltre had three hits,
including two doubles, and drove in two runs. Cesar Izturis had
three hits.

"I don't have any problems with the effort of this club tonight
and haven't had for the last three or four days," Tracy said.
"They are playing their hearts out."

Justin Speier pitched the ninth for his fourth save in five
chances.

Brian Fuentes (2-0) pitched a perfect eighth inning for the win.

Colorado starter Denny Stark gave up two singles to open the
game, but gave up one run on a fielder's choice by Paul Lo Duca.

Dodgers starter Hideo Nomo wasn't as lucky in the bottom half.

He walked Ronnie Belliard to start the inning, then gave up a
single to Chris Stynes. Walker walked on four pitches after Helton
grounded out, and Payton followed with a three-run double to the
gap in left-center.

Nomo was in trouble again in the second after giving up a
leadoff double by Uribe and walking Stark, but he escaped with just
one run on Belliard's double play ball.

Nomo allowed six runs on five hits in six innings.

Helton made it 5-1 on the third pitch of the third inning,
sending it to the back of Colorado's bullpen in right. He added a
solo shot to left in the in the fifth, his 19th of the year, to put
the Rockies up 6-4.

It was Helton's 23rd career multihomer game, second this season.

The Dodgers scored three runs in the fifth inning after Belliard
was charged with an error on a one-hopper by Shawn Green. Daryle
Ward knocked one in with a ground out and Beltre followed with a
two-run double just inside first base.

Stark allowed five runs -- two earned -- on 10 hits in his third
start since opening the season on the DL with a partially torn
muscle in his shoulder.

"I think he was just in a little bit of a hurry, he was fired
up and he got in his own way a couple of times," Rockies manager
Clint Hurdle said. "You get a 5-1 lead, you'd like to be a little
more effective with opposing batters."

The Dodgers cut the lead to 6-5 in the sixth when Nomo scored on
a wild pitch by Jose Jimenez.

Los Angeles tied it in the seventh when Helton couldn't handle a
grounder by Wilkin Ruan with two outs and a runner on third.
Helton, a two-time Gold Glover, got a second error when he threw
over Jimenez's head at first.

Game notes
The Rockies are 19-5 against the NL West at Coors Field.
... Nomo had a single in the sixth inning, just his fifth hit in 41
at-bats this season. ... Helton had three homers against the
Dodgers on May 29 for his first multihomer game of the year. ...
Dodgers INF Jolbert Cabrera was sent back to the team hotel after
coming down with a stomach virus. ... The Rockies were 39-30 before
the All-Star break in 1995 and 45-40 in 2000.