Rockies 7, Dodgers 6
DENVER (AP)—Greg Norton has made his mark in Colorado with clutch pinch-hits.
This time, it was the pitches he didn’t hit that helped the Rockies.
“Norty’s at-bat was really unbelievable,” said Colorado’s Todd Helton, who had two homers. “For Norton to foul off the fastballs outside and then take inside on the last pitch, that was really a big league at-bat. It’s a lot harder than it looks to draw that walk.”
The Rockies blew an early 5-1 lead with three costly errors, but manufactured the winning run in the eighth with three quality at-bats.
Helton opened the inning with a four-pitch walk off Paul Shuey (3-2), then Preston Wilson hit a single to left on a 1-2 count. Larry Walker grounded out to first to advance the runners, then Jay Payton was intentionally walked by Tom Martin to load the bases.
Norton came in as a pinch-hitter and quickly fell behind 0-2 to Paul Quantrill. He took the next pitch for a ball, then fouled off a tough pitch on the outside corner.
The Dodgers thought they had Norton on an inside fastball, but it was called a ball.
“It looked awfully good to me,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. “I’ve seen him throw several like it and get called third strikes.”
Norton followed by fouling off another tough pitch, then took two more— both close to the strike zone—to give Colorado its seventh win in 11 games.
“It was just going up there and trying to battle,” said Norton, who is second only to Lenny Harris of the Chicago Cubs in pinch-hits the past two seasons. “Getting down 0-2, I just tried to get the ball in play or do something in a big situation. I was fortunate that they called it a ball and I drew the walk.”
Jay Payton had three RBIs for Colorado, which will enter the All-Star break with a winning record (49-46) for just the third time in franchise history.
The Dodgers continued their torrid hitting, but still lost for the 11th time in 14 games.
“I don’t have any problems with the effort of this club tonight and haven’t had for the last three or four days,” Tracy said. “They are playing their hearts out.”
Justin Speier pitched the ninth for his fourth save in five chances.
Brian Fuentes (2-0) pitched a perfect eighth inning for the win.
Dodgers starter Hideo Nomo wasn’t as lucky in the bottom half.
He walked Ronnie Belliard to start the inning, then gave up a single to Chris Stynes. Walker walked on four pitches after Helton grounded out, and Payton followed with a three-run double to the gap in left-center.
Nomo was in trouble again in the second after giving up a leadoff double by Uribe and walking Stark, but he escaped with just one run on Belliard’s double play ball.
Nomo allowed six runs on five hits in six innings.
Helton made it 5-1 on the third pitch of the third inning, sending it to the back of Colorado’s bullpen in right. He added a solo shot to left in the in the fifth, his 19th of the year, to put the Rockies up 6-4.
It was Helton’s 23rd career multihomer game, second this season.
The Dodgers scored three runs in the fifth inning after Belliard was charged with an error on a one-hopper by Shawn Green. Daryle Ward knocked one in with a ground out and Beltre followed with a two-run double just inside first base.
Stark allowed five runs—two earned—on 10 hits in his third start since opening the season on the DL with a partially torn muscle in his shoulder.
“I think he was just in a little bit of a hurry, he was fired up and he got in his own way a couple of times,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “You get a 5-1 lead, you’d like to be a little more effective with opposing batters.”
The Dodgers cut the lead to 6-5 in the sixth when Nomo scored on a wild pitch by Jose Jimenez.
Los Angeles tied it in the seventh when Helton couldn’t handle a grounder by Wilkin Ruan with two outs and a runner on third. Helton, a two-time GoldGlover, got a second error when he threw over Jimenez’s head at first.
The Rockies are 19-5 against the NL West at Coors Field. … Nomo had a single in the sixth inning, just his fifth hit in 41 at-bats this season. … Helton had three homers against the Dodgers on May 29 for his first multihomer game of the year. … Dodgers INF Jolbert Cabrera was sent back to the team hotel after coming down with a stomach virus. … The Rockies were 39-30 beforethe All-Star break in 1995 and 45-40 in 2000.