LOS ANGELES (AP)—Most of the Colorado Rockies are involved in a pennant race for the first time. It seems to be bringing out their best.
Garrett Atkins had four hits, including a home run, and Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton homered as the Rockies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4 on Thursday night to sweep the three-game series and extend their franchise-record winning streak to 11 games.
The Rockies have given themselves a shot at the second playoff berth in the 15-year history of the franchise with the longest winning streak in the majors this season.
“We didn’t set out to win 11 in a row,” Atkins said. “We’ve just taken it game-by-game. It’s most of our first time, but we’re not thinking of it like that. We’ve had good pitching, good hitting, good defense and good luck.”
Formed as an expansion team in 1993, the Rockies made the playoffs two years later. They haven’t had a winning record since 2000.
Hawpe had three hits and four RBIs for the Rockies, who trail first-place Arizona in the NL West by two games and are one game behind San Diego in the wild-card race along with Philadelphia and the New York Mets.
“I don’t think anyone thought we had to win 11 straight just to stay in this thing,” Hawpe said. “We’ve been excited about what we’ve done, where we’re at. We’re looking toward what we’re doing in the next game and not worrying about the big picture.”
The Rockies and Diamondbacks open a season-ending three-game series in Colorado on Friday. Should the Rockies sweep, they will either clinch a postseason berth or qualify for a tiebreaking game to determine the division winner or wild-card team.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s going to be pretty special. We’ve gotten ourselves in a very good position that’s surprised a lot of people. It hasn’t surprised one person in that clubhouse.”
Seven of Colorado’s wins in the streak have come over the Dodgers, who have lost 10 of 11 to fall out of contention. The Rockies (87-72), a franchise-record 15 games over .500, won as many as nine straight once before—from Aug. 26-Sept. 5, 1997.
“We’re right where we want to be,” said Helton, who leads the franchise in almost every offensive category. “It will be a fun weekend. This is what it’s all about. I’m sure it will be a playoff atmosphere.
“We’re looking to make the playoffs. Anything can happen in the playoffs.”
Helton, who joined the Rockies in 1997, has never played in a postseason game.
“They’re playing well right now,” said Dodgers outfielder Juan Pierre, who played for the Rockies from 2000-02. “Anytime you win 11 games in a row, a lot of things are going right for them. It’s a good makeup over there. They’ve had a lot of young guys they stood by and they let them grow. And now they’re reaping the benefits.”
Rookie Franklin Morales (3-2), a 21-year-old left-hander making his eighth big-league start, allowed four hits and three runs in five-plus innings to earn the victory.
James Loney drove in three runs for the Dodgers to give him 31 RBIs this month—most in the majors.
The Rockies took a 3-0 lead and chased Esteban Loaiza (1-4) in the fourth. Matt Holliday singled for the first Colorado hit and one out later, Atkins hit his 25th homer. Hawpe followed with his 29th, the third time this season the Rockies have hit back-to-back homers.
The Dodgers scored twice in the bottom half to snap Morales’ streak of 20 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings on an RBI triple by Loney and Russell Martin’s run-scoring groundout.
The Rockies got a run in the sixth off Rudy Seanez on a sacrifice fly by Torrealba. It appeared they scored a second run when Matsui’s grounder glanced off second base umpire Jerry Layne and into center field. By rule, Matsui was given a single, but the ball was ruled dead, leaving the bases loaded. Scott Proctor relieved and retired Troy Tulowitzki on a grounder to second.
The Dodgers drew within one run and chased Morales in the bottom of the inning, scoring on Loney’s infield out before Jorge Julio retired Martin on a grounder to short with the tying run at third.
Helton hit a two-run homer off Proctor in the seventh to make it 6-3, and the Rockies scored four runs off rookie Jonathan Meloan in the eighth on an RBI double by Tulowitzki and a three-run double by Hawpe.
Colorado’s win eliminated the possibility of five playoff contenders finishing with the same record. … The Rockies had a 12-6 record against the Dodgers this season. Los Angeles won 15 of the 19 games between the teams last year. … Dodgers manager Grady Little said it’s unlikely injured INFs Rafael Furcal, Jeff Kent and Tony Abreu will play again this season. … Furcal, hampered all year by the sprained left ankle he sustained in spring training, said he’ll have an MRI on Monday. Furcal will miss the Dodgers’ last 12 games because of soreness in his lower back. … Helton’s seventh-inning homer extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He has reached base safely via a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in 28 straight games. … Los Angeles’ Mark Sweeney singled in the eighth for his major league-leading 23rd pinch hit this season.