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Publish Date: 4/24/2005

Rockies make great escape


DENVER — Chuckling sort of like a mad man after his Colorado Rockies hung on to beat Los Angeles, 8-6, on Saturday, manager Clint Hurdle cited one of baseball’s soundest philosophies.

“You don’t want to face Jeff Kent with the bases loaded,” Hurdle said.

And he went on.

“You don’t want to hit (J.D.) Drew with an 0-2 pitch. But those things happen as you’re moving along at major-league speed for a lot of these guys. It’s a situation they’re going to learn from.

“Sometimes you watch with both eyes open, sometimes you got one eye open. Sometimes you ask somebody what happened.”

In case Hurdle shielded his eyes from what could’ve been train-wreck city, here’s what he missed. The Dodgers stranded 16 men Saturday and went 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Three times — in the fifth, eighth and ninth innings — they left the bases loaded when one measly hit would have changed Saturday’s complexion. And all of this came after the Rockies built a 7-0 lead after two innings.

It’s no wonder the manager’s going plumb loco.

The final great escape came in the ninth. Rockies closer Chin-hui Tsao helped the Dodgers load the bases by walking the inning’s first batter and hitting Drew with a wayward 0-2 slider. That set the stage for Kent, one of baseball’s best RBI men, who grounded out to shortstop Clint Barmes to end the game.

Ryan Speier got out of the eighth when Olmedo Saenz popped out. Starter Shawn Chacon, who earned his first win as a starter since June 23, 2003, survived the fifth when right fielder Michael Restovich made a sliding grab of a line drive hit by Los Angeles pitcher Odalis Perez.

Rockies relievers can’t figure out how to retire the first man in any inning.

They walk some, hit some, surrender hits to others and, in general, make even the most sedate folks squirm. But know what? They didn’t blow Saturday’s game, even if they seemed to give it serious consideration.

“It’s flirting with disaster, is what it is,” reliever Brian Fuentes said. “The key is not getting into those jams. It’s one thing if you’re coming in for the starter and doing it. But when you create your own problem, it’s a different story. We have to do a better job of getting the first guy out ... and cutting down our walks.”

The Rockies won their fourth in their past five and their second in a row over the National League’s beat team to date. Perhaps the night’s biggest story is they’ve clinched their first series win in 2005. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not the Broncos winning a Super Bowl or the Nuggets knocking those mean Spurs from their lofty mantles. But, hey, for the Rockies, this ain’t too shabby.

“(Today) we have a chance to sweep them and I don’t think coming into this series that anybody would have thought we would have won this series,” Chacon said.

Said Hurdle: “We read about the worst playing the first-place team coming (into the weekend), so winning the first two games gives everybody a little different something to write about ... Any game we win here bodes confidence for these young players.”

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