Rockies 7, Indians 4

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DENVER (AP)—Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle started the season wanting to re-establish Coors Field as the most difficult place to play in baseball.

It’s working so far.

Bobby Estalella homered and drove in three runs and Larry Walker had three RBIs as the Colorado Rockies beat the Cleveland Indians 7-4 Thursday for their eighth consecutive home win.

The Rockies swept the three-game series against the Indians, just their third ever against an AL opponent, and have won four straight overall. Colorado has won 13 of 16 at Coors Field and has the majors’ best home record at 24-8.

“Our comfort zone is obviously at a very good level right now,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re getting different people to step up at different times and pick up when other guys aren’t getting it done.”

Against the Indians, it was Estalella breaking a season-long slump, Walker continuing to rebound from the worst start of his career and Jason Jennings fighting off his emotions for his first win in nearly a month.

Estalella hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to put the Rockies up 3-2 and added a sacrifice fly in the fifth to cap a four-run rally. He entered the game hitting just .186 and had not homered since April 23 against Philadelphia.

Walker, a career .317 hitter, hit a low point last month when his average dropped to .243. He has been swinging the bat better over the past three weeks and pushed his average to .272 with two hits on Thursday, including a two-run single in the fifth.

Jennings (4-5) was frustrated by plate umpire Dale Scott’s strike zone early, but used it to his advantage in the late innings to win for the first time since May 10 against Florida.

“This is our home park,” Walker said. “Any team that plays in their own park should have confidence.”

Cleveland had won five straight games before the series at Coors Field, but managed just 21 hits in three games at the hitter-friendly park.

The Indians had just four hits—none after the fifth inning—to drop to 6-15 in interleague games the past two seasons.

“Our guys didn’t do a very good job offensively here these three days,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “I think that we got away from some of the things that were helping us be successful here of late. Swings were a little bit big, a little bit too aggressive early in counts.”

Jennings had some shaky moments in his seven innings after getting frustrated with the strike zone, but found a way to keep his composure.

He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, when Jody Gerut led off with a homer that landed in the back of Cleveland’s bullpen in right-center.

John McDonald put the Indians up 2-1 with a run-scoring bloop double that a sliding Jay Payton just missed in left later in the inning, and Cleveland scored two more in the fifth on a slow roller and a wild pitch by Jennings.

Jennings was irritated that he wasn’t getting the calls on the outside part of the plate, but adjusted to the inside to get groundball outs. He allowed just four hits and four runs, and struck out six to improve to 3-0 at Coors Field this season.

“He was out of whack out there for a while,” Hurdle said. “He was a very angry young man on the mound, but he got through it.”

Jose Jimenez pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances, and his 10th straight.

Indians starter C.C. Sabathia (4-3) was on a roll until he rolled off the mound in the fifth inning.

With his team leading 4-3, Sabathia opened the fifth inning by walking Payton, then was called for a balk after catching his cleat on the dirt and falling to the ground. The crowd jeered as the ball squirted from his hand and trickled to the edge of the mound.

The tumble seemed to unnerve Sabathia.

He walked Todd Helton on the next pitch, and Preston Wilson singled before being picked off first by catcher Josh Bard. Walker made it 5-4 with a slow-rolling single up the middle, and Chris Stynes followed with a run-scoring triple to chase Sabathia.

Estalella made it 7-4 with a sacrifice fly off Terry Mulholland.

Sabathia allowed seven runs—six earned—on nine hits in 4 1-3 innings to end a four-game winning streak. It was the first time this season he had allowed more than four runs, and it was his first loss in eight outings.

“I had trouble throwing my fastball for a strike and I throw all of my pitches off the fastball,” Sabathia said. “Once I don’t have control of my fastball, I pretty much don’t have control over anything.”

Notes

Indians SS Omar Vizquel was back in the lineup after serving as a late-inning replacement Wednesday night. He went 0-for-3. … Colorado’s home winning streak is its longest since an eight-game streak last July 18-Aug. 9. … The Rockies’ only other sweeps against AL teams came against Tampa Bay last June and in 2000 against Texas. … Cleveland’s Brandon Phillips is hitless inhis last 28 at-bats after striking out as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning.

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