Alvarez picks up first win in over a year


DENVER (AP) -- Pitching at Coors Field is never easy.

Add in high temperatures and strong winds, and it's downright

Wilson Alvarez took advantage of Jolbert Cabrera's three-run
double in the first inning and overcame some shaky moments for his
first win in over a year as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the
Colorado Rockies 9-3 Sunday.

"It's hard to pitch in this place," said Alvarez, who won for
the first time since last June 28 against Florida while with Tampa

"After that ball (in the fifth inning) started out in left
field and started going into the stands, I said 'my God."

The gametime temperature of 97 matched the highest ever for a
game in Denver and a hard wind blowing in from left field in the
fifth inning made things even worse for pitchers on both sides.

Rockies starter Denny Neagle (2-3), who struggled in his
previous two outings, had his trouble right off the bat.

Cesar Izturis hit Neagle's first pitch to the gap in
right-center for a triple, then Alex Cora sent the next one to the
same area for a run-scoring double. Shawn Green made it 2-0 two
pitches later with a double down the line in left that led to boos
from the home crowd.

More boos followed after Neagle walked Paul Lo Duca and Mike
Kinkade to load the bases, and it became even louder after Cabrera
hit a three-run double just inside the line in left.

Adrian Beltre followed with a single before David Ross, the
eighth batter in the inning, struck out looking for the first out.
Alvarez grounded into a fielder's choice and Izturis flew out to
end the inning.

Neagle settled in after that, allowing two hits over the next
three innings, but was lifted in the fourth for pinch-hitter Mark

"His command in the first inning hasn't been good and to spot
their pitching staff five runs in the first inning is a tough
task," said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, whose team had a
four-game winning streak end.

Alvarez's woes began in the fourth inning, when he started
having trouble breathing in the heat and altitude.

He gave up a leadoff double to Helton and Larry Walker followed
a one-out single. Charles Johnson drove in Colorado's first run
with a sacrifice fly after Payton walked, then Alvarez walked Juan
Uribe and Bellhorn to make it 5-2.

Alvarez got out of the inning by striking out Ronnie Belliard.

"I wasn't tired physically. I was having a hard time
breathing," said Alvarez, who allowed three runs on five hits in
five innings. "I was thinking about that instead of throwing the

The fifth inning wasn't any easier after strong winds sent dust
and balls flying everywhere.

Chris Stynes led off with what appeared to be a homer to left,
but the wind knocked it down short of the wall for an out.

Helton followed with what looked like a lazy flyball -- left
fielder Paul Lo Duca started to camp under it -- but the ball
drifted toward the stands. Instead of an easy out, the ball bounced
foul into the stands and Lo Duca wound up getting hurt sliding into
the wall.

Lo Duca remained in the game after being checked out by the
Dodgers trainer and Helton took advantage of his second chance on
the next pitch, lifting it out to right for his 21st homer to cut
the lead to 5-3.

But the wind wasn't through.

Preston Wilson followed Helton's shot with what looked like
another homer, but the ball held up and fell just short of the wall
in center for an out.

The inning ended with third baseman Adrian Beltre leaning into
the stands after a popup by Payton drifted in the wind.

"I saw the wind blowing and I tried to start throwing the ball
inside to Helton," Alvarez said. "I've got to tip my hat to that
guy. He can hit."

Helton's homer was his fourth in three games and seventh in four
games against the Dodgers. He was 2-for-4 to extend his hitting
streak to 10 and has 125 hits, one more than Dante Bichette's 1998
team record for most before the All-Star break.

"I have seen the ball better," said Helton, who has hit safely
in 27 of the past 28 games. "I am swinging the bat pretty good
right now"

Dodgers reliever Guillermo Mota made it 6-3 in the seventh
inning with his second career homer -- first this season.

Los Angeles added three runs in the ninth inning on a
run-scoring double by Izturis, consecutive hit batters by Brian
Fuentes and a double play grounder by Lo Duca to win for just the
fourth time in 16 games.

Game notes
Colorado plays 14 of its first 17 games after the All-Star
break on the road. ... Dodgers RHP Paul Quantrill made his 665th
career appearance, passing Ferguson Jenkins for most by a Canadian
pitcher. ... The Rockies traded C-OF Ben Petrick to Detroit for RHP
Adam Bernero before the game. ... Mota's other homer was June 9,
1999, against Boston in his first career at-bat with Montreal.