Rockies' Offense Wakes up Against Cubs

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

DENVER - (AP) Todd Helton's power numbers may be down, but his batting stroke is just fine.

Helton had three hits to extended his hitting streak to 14 games, Dexter Fowler scored three times and the Colorado Rockies beat the Chicago Cubs 11-5 on Sunday.

Helton, who averaged 33 home runs a year in his first eight full seasons in the major leagues, has only 11 this year, but he's hitting .323 -- just five points below his career average -- with 65 RBIs.

"He is in a very good place and swinging the bat really well," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "We've been trying to get traffic on the bases in front of this guy."

Lately, rookies Carlos Gonzalez and Fowler have been setting the table atop the order. Sunday they were on base a combined six times and scored four runs

"I try to do the little things," said Gonzalez, who had three hits. "Get on base for guys like Helton and [Troy] Tulowitzki and [Brad] Hawpe."

In the first inning Gonzalez and Fowler got on and Helton followed with an RBI single to spark a three-run rally. Fowler led off the fifth with a single and scored on Helton's double down the right field line.

Helton had two doubles, a single and knocked in two runs as he established the second longest hitting streak of his career and longest since July 2003.

"Things are pretty good when you're getting some hits and you're not hitting the ball that hard," said Helton, who scored the 1,200th run of his career Sunday.

The Cubs were hitting the ball, they just weren't cashing in on their opportunities. Milton Bradley went 4-for-5 and Koyie Hill had three hits for Chicago, which had a season-high 17 hits but stranded 13.

"We got our hits today but we just couldn't push the runs across," Jake Fox said.

Manager Lou Piniella wasn't around to watch most of the game. Piniella was ejected for the second time this season after a heated argument with second base umpire Chris Guccione over his call in a disputed second-inning double-play. Piniella argued that second baseman Clint Barmes wasn't on the bag on the relay throw from third, which would have allowed Jeff Baker to score and cut Colorado's lead to 3-1.

"I don't know how you can miss it," Piniella said. "Look, obviously he was wrong, OK. We'll leave it at that. I don't know if [the game] turned on that or not, but assuming the call is made right, and we get another base hit, the ballgame is tied and you don't know what can happen," Piniella said.

Chicago starter Randy Wells (8-5) was 7-1 in his last eight starts before Sunday, but Colorado jumped on him early. After Helton singled in the first run of the game, Gonzalez came home on Tulowitzki's single to left and Helton scored on Hawpe's double play groundout to make it 3-0.

The Cubs made it 3-1 in the third on Kosuke Fukudome's bases-loaded single, but Colorado starter Jason Hammel (7-6) got Alfonso Soriano on a soft liner to second and struck out Baker to limit the damage.

"At that point in the game things could have been much different," Hammel said. "Things were still in doubt and it could have gone either way."

Hammel allowed three runs on 11 hits and struck out four in six-plus innings. After going 0-3 with a 5.76 ERA in July, Hammel is 2-0 in August.

Fowler scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-1 in the third, but Bradley got the run back with an RBI double in the fourth. Fowler scored his third run on Helton's one-out double in the fifth.

The Cubs cut it to 5-3 on Hill's RBI single in the sixth, but Colorado chased Wells during a three-run sixth that made it 8-3, and added three more in the seventh.

Wells, who had lost once since June 12, gave up seven runs on eight hits, struck out three and walked to in 5 2/3 innings.

"There's not a whole lot to say. They swung the bats well. I didn't pitch well," Wells said. "I guess just chalk this one up as a tough day, forget about it, and come back and start a new run."


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