The Colorado Rockies will have to improve their play on the road if they want to seriously contend for a postseason berth. Their dramatic win in Montreal on Tuesday could have provided the boost they needed.
The Rockies look to inch their way further up the National League wild card standings as they conclude a three-game series with the Expos at Olympic Stadium.
On Tuesday, Greg Norton came through a pinch-hit, 11th-inning homer to lead the Rockies to a 6-3 win over the Expos, snapping Colorado’s three-game losing streak.
The Rockies, who play 19 of their remaining 40 games away from hitter-friendly Coors Field, improved their winning percentage on the road to an NL-worst .323 (20-42).
“I think we needed that,” Norton said. “We played a good game. Our bullpen was unbelievable. (Starter Chin-hui) Tsao pitched well, and we need as many as we can on the road and at home.
“We just need wins.”
The win moved Colorado, which also improved its record in extra-inning games to 2-7, into a tie with Montreal in the wild card hunt. Both clubs are 5 1/2 games behind the Florida Marlins.
Vladimir Guerrero homered for the second straight night and drove in three runs for the Expos, who have lost six of their last eight.
“We had opportunities, but we just didn’t cash in on them,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “These are games we have to win.”
Montreal will send No. 1 starter Javier Vazquez to the mound on Wednesday.
The right-hander, who gave up three earned runs and four hits in six innings of Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Houston Astros, has pitched two complete games and gone 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA over his last five starts.
STANDINGS: Rockies - 4th place, 14 GB, NL West. Expos - 4th place, 17 GB, NL East.
ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Denny Stark (1-0, 5.89 ERA). On Thursday, Stark gave up three earned runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings of Colorado’s 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, but did not receive a decision. The right-hander has made only one career start against the Expos, giving up five runs, three earned, and four hits—including two home runs—in a 14-6 win on Aug. 22, 2002.
EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Vazquez (9-8, 3.59 ERA). Vazquez is 1-2 with a 5.04 ERA in five career starts against the Rockies.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rockies - Todd Helton, .353 avg. and 107 runs; Preston Wilson, 29 HRs and 113 RBIs; Tony Womack, 11 SBs. Expos - Jose Vidro, .322 avg.; Orlando Cabrera, 17 HRs, 67 RBIs, 77 runs and 20 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 3-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rockies - The Rockies, who are in the midst of 13 straight games against NL East opponents, are 8-13 against the East this season. … INF Norton’s homer was his major league-leading 16th pinch hit, and raised his pinch-hit batting average to .327 with three home runs and 12 RBIs. … The lowest road winning percentage in Rockies history was last season’s .321 (26-55). Expos - 3B Fernando Tatis, who is on the disabled list because of inflammation in his chest wall, took batting practice Tuesday. … RHP Vazquez is 6-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 13 home starts this season. … The Expos have been in danger of falling under .500 five times this season, but have won each time.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockies - 20-42 on the road; Expos - 37-23 at home.
INJURIES: Rockies - INF Mark Bellhorn (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Nelson Cruz (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Denny Neagle (elbow), 15-day DL; OF Chris Richard (shoulder), 60-day DL. Expos - C Barrett (hip and finger), 15-day DL; 3B Tatis (chest), 15-day DL; RHP Orlando Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Dan Smith (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Scott Stewart (appendicitis), 15-day DL; RHP Claudio Vargas (rotator cuff), 15-day DL; RHP Tony Armas Jr. (shoulder), 60-day DL.