Rockies 10, Padres 2

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SAN DIEGO (AP)—With just one more game left, Todd Helton is closing in on another National League batting title.

Helton went 2-for-4 and tied St. Louis’ Albert Pujols for the NL batting lead with a .358 average as the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Saturday night.

Helton was hitting .357 coming in and trailed Pujols by three points, but the Cardinals star went hitless in three at-bats.

“Any time you can win a batting title, it’s special,” said Helton, who was not aware that he had tied Pujols. “As long as I’m there, I might as well win it.”

Helton, who singled twice and walked, won the NL batting crown in 2000 when he hit a career-high .372.

Denny Stark (3-3) and three relievers combined on a two-hitter and the Rockies hit four home runs, including a three-run shot by Ronnie Belliard.

But with Colorado (73-88) ending its third straight consecutive losing season, all the attention was on Helton.

“He’s a prime-time player,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He hits wherever he goes. To make up that much distance that late in the season, is amazing. He’s special.”

Pujols held a commanding lead in the batting race throughout much of the season. But as Pujols slumped late in the season, Helton surged. The left-hander is hitting .375 (27-for-72) as he has hit safely in 19 of his last 20 games.

“I’m surprised I’m in this position because he was so far out in front of everybody,” Helton said. “The only way I could catch him was if he came back to me.”

St. Louis closes its season at Arizona on Sunday, while Colorado finishes against the Padres.

“I’ll try to approach it like any other game,” Helton said. “But it will be in the back of my mind. I’m sure I’ll be thinking about it.”

Preston Wilson left the game in the sixth inning with an injury to his right pinkie. Wilson was injured when he appeared to make a diving catch in center field.

Although the results of X-rays were unknown after the game, Hurdle said Wilson told him he dislocated the finger, then popped it back in place.

Wilson, Larry Walker and Gregg Zaun all added solo homers. Wilson drove in two runs to tie Toronto’s Carlos Delgado for the major league lead with 141.

Walker also drove in two runs to become Colorado’s career RBIs leader with 828, surpassing Dante Bichette.

“The long ball killed us,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “They swung the bats well and we couldn’t stop the bleeding.”

Stark (3-3) allowed just one single through five shutout innings before giving up a two-out homer to Brian Giles after issuing a leadoff walk in the sixth.

Stark, making his first start since Sept. 3, was lifted after six innings. Stark struck out four with one walk.

“I was able to keep the ball down tonight and that made a big difference,” Stark said. “It’s been a frustrating year, but I’ve learned a lot.”

Aaron Cook, Jason Young and Chin-Hui Tsao pitched the final three innings.

Belliard homered off Mike Bynum (1-4) in the fourth to give the Rockies a 5-0 lead. Wilson and Walker then hit back-to-back homers on consecutive pitches from Joe Roa in the fifth to put Colorado up 7-0.

Wilson’s injury came with a runner on first and no outs. Sean Burroughs hit a long fly ball that Wilson dived for and seemed to catch as he landed on his stomach.

But television replays clearly showed the ball rolling out of his glove after he hit the ground. Wilson appeared to scoop the ball back into his glove with his bare hand.

Bynum allowed five runs on seven hits in 3 1-3 innings.

“I didn’t finish the way I wanted to,” Bynum said. “I flat-out did notpitch well.”


The Padres will play their final game at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday. San Diego will move into its new downtown ballpark next season after 35 years at Qualcomm. … Jay Payton was the only Rockies’ position player who did nothave a hit, going 0-for-5.

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