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September 18, 2009

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Rockies boost wildcard hopes

THE Colorado Rockies suffered a late collapse before just managing to hold off the surging San Francisco Giants 4-3 on Wednesday, the win giving them some breathing room in the National League wildcard race.

Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt was required to salvage a dangerous situation in the ninth inning, coming on to record the final three outs after the Giants had scored three times to reduce the deficit to a single run.

By taking the final contest of the three-game set, Colorado (83-64) opened a 3 1/2 game-lead over the Giants (79-67) in the race for a playoff spot.

"It was a big win, but at the same time if we dropped this game there was no reason to be down on ourselves," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki told reporters.

"We've come a long way. What we've been through, to start out the season the way we did and still be in a playoff race is something special."

San Francisco threatened to make it a tighter race in the ninth where Bengie Molina sparked the late rally with an RBI single against reliever Franklin Morales, who failed to record an out and left the game with two runners on.

San Francisco added another score when Tulowitzki committed a throwing error on a routine ground ball. Randy Winn then grounded out but brought in the final run before Betancourt struck out Nate Schierholtz to end the game.

Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa picked up his 15th win of the season with a virtually flawless effort that saw the left-hander strike out nine and allow just three hits in eight innings.

Best performance

"This was the best performance of my life," said De La Rosa, who started the year 0-6. "Given the situation, it's what we needed."

Colorado seized control of the contest by scoring two runs apiece in the fourth and sixth innings, led by home runs from Tulowitzki and Ian Stewart.

Tulowitzki had three hits and his solo shot in the fourth opened the scoring and was his 27th of the year.

Elsewhere, the Florida Marlins kept up their bid to snatch the National League wildcard berth by beating the St Louis Cardinals 5-2.

Pitcher Josh Johnson gave up just one run over six innings to set up a win that kept Florida within 4-1/2 games of wildcard-holding Colorado with 16 games to play.

In Chicago, Braden Looper pitched five innings for his career-high 13th win, guiding Milwaukee past Chicago 9-5.

In other action, it was: Dodgers 3, Pirates 1; Braves 6, Mets 5; Reds 6, Astros 5; and Phillies 6, Nationals 1; Padres 6, Diamondbacks 5, 10 innings.


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