Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 3

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PHOENIX (AP)—Carlos Baerga is always ready.

Baerga broke a seventh-inning tie with a three-run homer, and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Colorado Rockies 9-3 Tuesday night for their 17th win in 20 games.

“I just have to be prepared to do my job,” Baerga said.

Manager Bob Brenly counts on him for pinch hits.

“I know that was my job when he called me to spring training,” Baerga said. “When I made it to the club, he told me I have to be prepared any time. It’s not easy, but that’s my role.”

With the score 3-all in the seventh, Steve Reed (5-2) relieved Denny Neagle and allowed a leadoff single to Alex Cintron. After Chad Moeller’s failed sacrifice attempt, Quinton McCracken singled and Baerga hit for Brandon Webb (6-2).

Baerga followed with the fourth pinch-hit home run of his career, his first since July 2, 1999, for San Diego at Colorado.

After two years out of the majors, he led the American League with 10 pinch hits for Boston last year. The homer was Baerga’s 10th pinch hit this season.

“The last time I faced him in Colorado. he throw me a lot of breaking balls and he got me out flying to center field, and I went over there looking for that pitch,” Baerga said.

Reed blamed himself for a pitch that didn’t break enough.

“It was bad location,” he said. “But they’re playing great, obviously. The last two weeks, they’re firing out, getting the key hits. They’re just playing good.”

Arizona added three runs in the eighth off Brian Fuentes. Moeller hit an RBI single and Lyle Overbay had a sacrifice fly.

Shea Hillenbrand, who had three homers, five hits and seven RBIs in Arizona’s 14-6 win Monday, went 2-for-3 with a double. He has 10 hits in his last 12 at-bats, raising his average with the Diamondbacks to .364.

Steve Finley hit a two-run homer in the first inning and had an RBI triple in a three-run eighth. Arizona has won 10 straight home games.

Webb became the second member of Arizona’s depleted rotation to reach six wins, following Miguel Batista. Injured aces Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling should rejoin the team soon following rehabilitation assignments with Triple-A Tucson.

“It was my first time playing third base for him,” Craig Counsell said. “It’s tough, because he just pounds those right-handers in so hard with that sinker, you know you’re going to get some ground balls. It’s a little like having Randy pitch, to be honest.”

Webb allowed three runs, seven hits and a walk in seven innings, striking out nine. He is 3-0 in his last five starts.

Arizona took a 3-0 lead in the first against Neagle, who allowed three runs and four hits in six innings. After early trouble, he retired 16 of 18 batters in one stretch.

“He gave us a good effort tonight,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He responded well after some early adversity in the first, settled down and gave us a chance to win. I’m real pleased with his effort.”

Counsell, activated Monday after two months on the disabled list with an injured thumb, homered on Neagle’s fourth pitch, and Finley hit his 14th homer of the season.

Colorado tied the score in the third on Chris Stynes’ RBI single and Todd Helton’s two-run homer.

“He’s one of the best hitters I’ve faced in my short career,” Webb said of Helton, who went 3-for-4. “It seems like he knows what’s coming, and there’s no fooling him.”

Rockies’ rally attempts fizzled in the sixth and seventh innings. Jay Payton hit an inning-ending popup after Helton doubled and reached third in the sixth, and Ronnie Belliard hit into a 4-3-6-2 inning-ending double play in theseventh, with Cintron throwing out Juan Uribe at the plate from shortstop.

Notes

Counsell’s leadoff homer was the eighth in team history. … Larry Walker’s infield single in the sixth tied him with Dante Bichette for most hits in Rockies history (1,278). … Belliard, who went 7-for-14 last week in Denver against the Diamondbacks, went 0-for-9 in the two-game series at Phoenix, 1-for-19 on a five-game trip. … Helton has 695 RBIs, five shy of becoming the third Colorado player with 700. … Webb struck out Preston Wilson threetimes.

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