for this game

Smith's bloop, Holliday's blast lead Rockies to World Series

Oct 16, 2007 - 8:36 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- Micah Owings was one pitch away from escaping with a lead. Thirteen pitches later, the Colorado Rockies were well on the way to their first World Series appearance.

Pinch hitter extraordinaire Seth Smith hit a two-out double to spark a six-run fourth-inning and Matt Holliday capped the flourish with a 452-foot blast, and the Rockies held on for a 6-4 victory on Monday over the shellshocked Arizona Diamondbacks to complete a four-game sweep of the National League Championship Series.

"Different hero every day," Colorado center fielder Willy Taveras said. "Tonight guys from the bench got the big hits."

"It's been an organizational effort and I have never been more proud of a group of men than I have of these men that wear a Rockies uniform this year," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "There's a been a bunch of them and they've all made a difference."

The stellar Colorado bullpen survived an eighth-inning hiccup by Brian Fuentes - a three-run homer to Chris Snyder - en route to its 21st win in 22 games and joined the 1976 Cincinnati Reds as the only clubs in NL history to start the postseason with seven straight wins.

"We don't really talk about (the streak), we are pretty much focused on that day's business," Holliday said. "This club has had a good focus all season long of turning the page to the next day. We talk more about fantasy football."

In just its second postseason in franchise history, Colorado will play either the Cleveland Indians or Boston Red Sox in the World Series in Game One next Wednesday at the American League champion's home park.

"We don't care who it is," Holliday said. "They're both very good teams with very good pitching. We're just going to try to enjoy it tonight, you guys have nine days to ask us about the World Series."

With its season on the line, Arizona went with the rookie Owings, who was known more for his hitting prowess than his pitching.

"I felt good all night, I just made one mistake to Holliday," Owings said. "We didn't have too many things go our way this series."

Owings was 8-8 with a 4.30 ERA in 27 starts in the regular season but hadn't pitched since September 27. But the righthander, who hit .333 in 60 at-bats with four homers and tossed 15 2/3 scoreless innings in his last two starts, looked sharp early and took a 1-0 lead into the fourth.

However, walks in the fourth to Brad Hawpe and Troy Tulowitzki gave Colorado some life and both advanced on a groundout, bringing Smith to the plate with two outs instead of Colorado starter Franklin Morales.

"I felt it was imperative to get a lead before they could turn it over to their bullpen," Hurdle said. "It was a gamble. I have a lot of good options with the amount of good players I have and I thought it was worth the risk."

The 25-year-old Smith, who was 6-for-11 - all as a pinch hitter - since being purchased in mid-September, quickly fell behind 0-2. After taking a ball, the lefthanded hitter fought off an inside fastball that he blooped down the left field line for a single, plating both runners for a 2-1 lead.

"I didn't know it was my time to hit until I actually went up there," Smith said. "I got behind early in the count and I wanted to do was get the barrel on the ball. I knew it was going to fall in, I just had to wait to see if it was going to be fair or foul so I just kept running."

It looked like Owings was going to escape the inning when Willy Taveras hit a routine grounder to Conor Jackson, but the first baseman booted the ball for an error to keep the inning alive.

"Nine times out of 10 he makes that play," Owings said.

Kaz Matsui followed with a soft single up the middle, plating Smith before Holliday drilled a 1-1 offering to dead center field for a 6-1 lead, ending the night for Owings and any real hope that Arizona had of coming back in the series.

The homer for Holliday, a favorite for the NL MVP Award, was his fourth of the postseason and second in as many nights in this series.

"Runners on base, trying to score, looking for a pitch to drive," Holliday said. "He left a slider up and I was able to get enough of it and it went over the fence.

"It's unbelievable I never dreamed to have this opportunity and I thank the lord I could be a part of this team and this group of guys. I'm just so excited to be part of it and this MVP award goes 24 ways and all the coaches and every one who has ever worked with me coming up."

The three hits with runners in scoring position for the Rockies in the inning was one less than the Diamondbacks' output with runners in scoring position for the entire series. The error also allowed Colorado to hold a 6-0 lead in unearned runs for the series.

"We fought again to the end which we expect every night," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "(I told our players) hold your heads high cause we had a hell of a year."

Matt Herges (1-0) pitched two perfect innings, LaTroy Hawkins added a hitless seventh before Fuentes yielded singles to Stephen Drew and Conor Jackson before Snyder lofted a 2-0 fastball just inside the left field foul line to cut the deficit to 6-4.

Justin Upton followed with a triple to left-center, bringing the tying run to the plate, but closer Manny Corpas entered and struck out pinch hitter Tony Clark on a 3-2 pitch to escape. Corpas worked around a one-out double by Chris Young, notching his fifth save of the postseason when shortstop Tulowitzki threw out Eric Byrnes from deep short for the final out.

Longtime Rockies first baseman Todd Helton dropped to his knees and raised both fists in the air as a wild celebration took place on the field and fireworks flew through the sky.

"I can't believe it, what a crazy game," Helton said. "Emotionally, I can't say enough about this ball club the resiliency they've shown. ... I don't know what to say. I'd do a disservice to it trying to put it into words.

"It was fun, this has been a great ride, we're not done. We're going to keep it going."

The Rockies bullpen entered the eighth having surrendered just two earned runs in 26 innings in the postseason.

Morales, a 21-year-old lefthander who had three scoreless outings in September, was making just his 10th career start, including a shaky outing in Game Two of the NLCS against Philadelphia 11 days ago in which he allowed three runs in three-plus innings.

But the hardthrowing lefthander kept Colorado in the game, allowing just a run, five hits and a walk with two strikeouts in four innings before leaving.

He yielded a run in the third inning - the first time Arizona had led in the series since the first inning of Game One - on a two-out line single to center field by Jackson, but a great leaping grab of a liner by Tulowitzki at shortstop on a shot by Chris Young prevented a much bigger inning. Morales stranded two runners in three of the four innings he pitched.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    ARIZONA 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 4 10 1
    COLORADO 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 0 x 6 6 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: ARI - MICAH OWINGS, JUAN CRUZ (4TH), BRANDON LYON (7TH) AND CHRIS
    SNYDER
    COL - FRANKLIN MORALES, MATT HERGES (5TH), LATROY
    HAWKINS (7TH), BRIAN FUENTES (8TH), MANN

    Oct 16 1:39 AM


  • NL
    AT COLORADO - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY CHRIS SNYDER (1) TO LEFT WITH 2 OUT
    IN THE 8TH OFF BRIAN FUENTES SCORED STEPHEN DREW AND CONOR JACKSON.
    CURRENT SCORE: ARIZONA 4, COLORADO 6
    DUE UP FOR ARIZONA: J UPTON (.125, 1-FOR-2, HBP)

    Diamondbacks vs. RockiesOct 16 1:13 AM


  • NL
    AT COLORADO - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY MATT HOLLIDAY (2) TO CENTER WITH 2
    OUT IN THE 4TH OFF MICAH OWINGS SCORED WILLY TAVERAS AND KAZ
    MATSUI.
    CURRENT SCORE: ARIZONA 1, COLORADO 6
    DUE UP FOR COLORADO: T HELTON (.231, 1-FOR-2)

    Diamondbacks vs. RockiesOct 16 12:05 AM


  • NL
    AT COLORADO - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY KAZ MATSUI SCORED SETH SMITH.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, K MATSUI ON FIRST, W TAVERAS ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ARIZONA 1
    COLORADO 3 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR COLORADO: M HOLLIDAY (.308, 1-FOR-1, HBP)

    Diamondbacks vs. RockiesOct 16 12:03 AM


  • NL
    AT COLORADO - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY SETH SMITH SCORED BRAD HAWPE AND TROY TULOWITZKI.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, S SMITH ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ARIZONA 1
    COLORADO 2 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR COLORADO: W TAVERAS (.188, 1-FOR-2)

    Diamondbacks vs. RockiesOct 15 11:56 PM


  • NL
    AT COLORADO - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY CONOR JACKSON SCORED MICAH OWINGS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C JACKSON ON FIRST, E BYRNES ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ARIZONA 1
    COLORADO 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR ARIZONA: M REYNOLDS (.154, 0-FOR-1)

    Diamondbacks vs. RockiesOct 15 11:16 PM
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