Dodgers eliminate Rockies from playoff races

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DENVER (AP)—Troy Tulowitzki(notes) slammed his helmet in disgust and impaled the handle of his broken bat into the ground behind home plate.

The bat stayed in the ground as he walked off the field after striking out to end the game, knowing his Colorado Rockies are out of the pennant race.

Casey Blake(notes) homered twice, Rafael Furcal(notes) had two triples and the Los Angeles Dodgers helped eliminate the Rockies from playoff contention with a 9-7 victory Tuesday night.

The Rockies were eliminated from the NL playoff race with their loss and wins by Atlanta and San Francisco on Tuesday. Atlanta’s 3-2 win over Florida knocked Colorado out of the wild card and the Giants’ 4-2 win over Arizona finished them in the NL West.

“It’s been a tough stretch,” Todd Helton(notes) said. “Just a tough go.”

The Rockies were within a game of first place nine days earlier with a chance to sweep the Dodgers in L.A. But they couldn’t hold onto a 6-1 lead and lost in extra innings.

They’ve now lost eight of nine, including four of the first five on this crucial homestand.

“We’ve been losing a lot lately because we haven’t played well,” outfielder Seth Smith(notes) said. “Great teams who are not playing well find ways to win games.”

They almost found a way in Tuesday’s game. They had a man on first and Tulowitzki, their hottest hitter, at the plate with two outs in the ninth against reliever Kenley Jensen. But Tulowitzki struck out swinging to end Colorado’s last hope.

“He made sure the first guy got a hit in the ninth so he could go through the three and four hitters,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of Jensen, who picked up his second save.

Los Angeles, which was eliminated from the race already, has played spoiler by beating the Rockies three straight.

“They are professionals,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “If you’re already going home you want to take somebody with you.”

The Dodgers blew a four-run lead Tuesday, but came back in the eighth off reliever Octavio Dotel(notes) (3-4). A.J. Ellis(notes) doubled to lead off and Furcal tripled home pinch-runner Chin-lung Hu(notes) to make it 7-6. One batter later, Andre Ethier’s(notes) sacrifice fly gave L.A. a two-run lead.

The Rockies got one back on Chris Iannetta’s(notes) bases-loaded walk in the eighth, but Ryan Spilborgh struck out to end the inning. Blake hit his second homer, and 17th of the season, leading off the ninth to restore the two-run lead.

Down 6-2 after James Loney’s(notes) solo homer in the top of the seventh, the Rockies rallied against starter Hiroki Kuroda(notes). Melvin Mora(notes) led off with a single and Helton belted his eighth homer to make it 6-4.

Iannetta drew a one-out walk to end Kuroda’s night and reliever Ronald Bellisario gave up a two-run homer to Dexter Fowler(notes) to tie it.

“We get back into the game with the help of Helton’s home run and the Fowler home run and then they hit our bullpen immediately,” Tracy said. “When those things like that happen and you keep asking your offense to come back, it’s hard to do.”

Bellisario (3-1) got the win, pitching two-thirds of an inning.

The Dodgers jumped on starter Jeff Francis(notes) in the third. Kuroda led off with a single and Furcal followed with an RBI triple. Mora’s throwing error on Ryan Theriot’s(notes) grounder scored Furcal, and one out later Matt Kemp(notes) and Blake hit back-to-back homers to make it 5-1.

Francis allowed five runs, four earned, and six hits, striking out just one in three innings. It was the third consecutive short start for Francis since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 13.

The Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the first on Chris Nelson’s(notes) double and Carlos Gonzalez’s(notes) single.

Notes: Helton, 37, said after the game he is coming back next season. “I signed a three-year deal. When was it that (retirement) ever crossed my mind?” … Tracy said 2B Eric Young(notes) Jr. will have an MRI on his sore right shin and will probably not play again this season. Tracy also confirmed that veteran Jason Giambi(notes) will be shut down for the final week of the season. … Rockies 2B Clint Barmes(notes) left the team early Tuesday to be with his ailing father. … Torre said after the game that left-hander Clayton Kershaw(notes) will be shut down for the rest of the season. Carlos Monasterios(notes) will start in Kershaw’s place against the Rockies.

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