Rockies 5, Orioles 3

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DENVER (AP)—After a month of nibbling near the corners, Shawn Estes decided to be more aggressive. He figured if he was going to get beat, it was going to be in the strike zone.

That approach proved to be just what he—and the Colorado Rockies—needed.

Estes allowed two runs in seven innings for his first win in a month, and Todd Helton drove in three runs to help Colorado beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 Friday night.

Estes (7-3) had been stuck on six wins since beating Cincinnati on May 18, in part because he was trying to be too fine. Taking a more aggressive approach with his fastball, he worked through a few tough spots against the Orioles to move within one win of his total last season with the Chicago Cubs.

“Tonight, I was going to get beat throwing the ball in the zone, that was my mentality,” Estes said. “It’s amazing what happens when you keep the ball in the zone—you get more outs and less walks.”

A cold, misty night helped, keeping the scoring down between the teams with the highest ERAs in each league.

The Rockies got eight hits off Sidney Ponson (3-9) and scored five runs off him to win for the third time in four games.

Rafael Palmeiro hit career home run No. 538 and Jerry Hairston was a homer short of the cycle, but the rest of the Orioles managed just five hits in losing their sixth straight.

“It seems like things aren’t going our way,” Hairston said.

Estes had a lot to do with it.

The left-hander gave up at least one hit in each of the first six innings, including Palmeiro’s 10th homer on a hanging curveball to open the fourth, but worked his way out of trouble.

Estes stranded two runners in both the second and fourth innings, then got Javy Lopez to hit into an inning-ending double play on a comebacker with the bases loaded in the fifth.

Estes allowed a run in the sixth on a groundout, but clearly got a confidence boost from the home-to-first double play in the fifth.

“There is nothing better from our perspective when you have the bases loaded than to get that 1-2-3 double play,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “It doesn’t happen very often and when you do see it, it breaks somebody’s back. That was the pitch of the game.”

Shawn Chacon worked the ninth for his 13th save in 18 chances and third straight after blowing three opportunities in a row. He allowed a solo homer to pinch-hitter David Newhan, who was signed earlier in the day after being released by Texas.

The Rockies gave Chacon room to make a mistake by taking advantage of their opportunities against Ponson.

Colorado got a run in the first inning on Helton’s groundout after Royce Clayton tripled, and another in the fourth on Vinny Castilla’s RBI double.

The Rockies got three more runs off Ponson in the fifth inning on Clayton’s single and Helton’s two-run double to go up 5-1.

Ponson was solid in his seven innings, allowing four earned runs, but still lost his sixth straight decision. He dropped to 0-5 on the road this season.

“Sidney threw well,” Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. “We had opportunities to back him and missed.”

Ponson was better than he has been—26 runs the previous 24 innings—but Baltimore’s injury problems got worse.

The Orioles placed right-hander Rick Bauer on the 15-day disabled list with elbow nerve irritation and left fielder B.J. Surhoff came out in the fourth inning with a strained left calf.

Leading hitter Melvin Mora also missed his first game of the season after spraining a ligament in his left foot Thursday against Los Angeles, and outfielder Luis Matos sat out with sore ribs. First baseman David Segui (knee), outfielder Marty Cordova (knee) and left-hander Omar Daal (shoulder) are still on the disabled list.

“Right now we are down to one position player and a backup,” Mazzilli said.

Colorado’s news on the injury front was a little better.

Center fielder Preston Wilson returned to the lineup ahead of schedule after missing 58 games because of knee surgery. Last year’s NL RBI leader went 0-for-4, but he made a couple of running catches in the field and a diving attempt at a ball in the gap.

“He didn’t hold back any tonight, not in any area,” Hurdle said. “It wasreal good to have him back.”


The start was delayed 27 minutes by rain. … Trainers attended to Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts for several minutes in the second inning after he was hit on the wrist while diving for a line drive by Matt Holliday, but Roberts stayed in the game. … Helton’s double in the fifth inning was the300th of his career.

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