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September 22, 2009

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Rockies extend lead on Giambi's homer

THE Colorado Rockies extended their National League wildcard lead to four-and-a-half games on Sunday with a 5-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Rockies, who are being chased by the San Francisco Giants for the wildcard spot, rode Jason Giambi's two-run homer in the eighth inning for the victory.

It was his second homer in successive games after the former Oakland and New York Yankees first baseman hit a three-run ninth inning homer in a pinch-hit role in Saturday's 10-4 win.

"When we left on this trip, we were 4-1/2 ahead (in the wildcard), and over the course of 10 days we go back home and we have the same lead that we had when we left," Rockies manager Jim Tracy told reporters.

Colorado scored three runs in the seventh on two singles and a sacrifice bunt to overcome a 1-0 Arizona lead. Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez (14-11) allowed five hits and one run over seven innings. He struck out eight and walked three. The right hander retired 12 consecutive batters at one point after struggling with his fastball early in the game.

Arizona scored once in the second and had the bases loaded when Jimenez escaped by striking out Justin Upton with a slider.

"That was a big situation in the game right there," Jimenez said. "If they had scored more than two runs, you knew (Diamondbacks starter Dan) Haren was going to get comfortable."

Haren (14-9) did not allow a hit until Giambi singled in the fifth. He went eight innings, yielding eight hits and five runs with seven strikeouts and two walks.

Haren praised his opposite after the game. "The guy's got some of the best stuff in baseball and once the guy puts everything together, he's going to be pretty special. I tip my cap to him. He's having a really good year, a coming-out year for him and he just got the better of me."

San Francisco fell farther behind Colorado in the wildcard race with a 2-6 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants are now only a half-game ahead of the Florida Marlins in the chase to catch the Rockies.

In Los Angeles, Andre Ethier hit a go-ahead homer off Tim Lincecum as the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 6-2 to go 30 games over .500 for the first time in almost 24 years.

In other NL action, it was: Cubs 6, Cardinals 3; Phillies 4, Braves 2; Reds 8, Marlins 1; Brewers 6, Astros 0; Mets 6, Nationals 2; and Padres 4, Pirates 0.

In the American League, the Detroit Tigers avoided a three-game sweep with a 6-2 win over the Minnesota Twins to increase their AL Central lead to three games.

Elsewhere, it was: Mariners 7, Yankees 1; Red Sox 9, Orioles 3; Royals 2, White Sox 1; Angels 10, Rangers 5; Rays 3, Blue Jays 1; and Athletics 11, Indians 4.


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