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Rockies Rally Past Arizona In 9th


It was the sort of comeback that John Elway made famous, and with nearly three dozen Denver Broncos players and coaches in the stands, the Colorado Rockies' ninth-inning rally seemed wholly appropriate.

Vinny Castilla hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, lifting the Rockies to a 3-2 victory over Arizona Wednesday night.

Larry Walker led off with a hustling double off closer Gregg Olson (1-3) and stole third. Castilla followed with his 22nd homer, which barely cleared the wall in left center. He has homered in four straight games.

Walker actually ignited the comeback in the top of the ninth.

The Diamondbacks had a chance to pad their 2-1 lead with one out when David Dellucci tagged up at third and tried to score on Karim Garcia's fly ball to right. But Walker made a perfect throw on the fly, gunning down Dellucci for an inning-ending double play.

"That has to be our most exciting win of the year," Rockies manager Don Baylor said. "That throw he made ... That's how the game is supposed to be played. That's how he played last year, and that's why he was Most Valuable Player (in the NL), the way he can electrify a crowd."

Walker, in turn, said he was turned on by the presence of the Super Bowl champion Broncos, who were honored in a pregame ceremony. Tight end Shannon Sharpe made an impromptu tour of the bases, sliding home, and head coach Mike Shanahan threw out the first pitch. Elway, however, was not present.

"We had a lot of the Bronco players here," Walker said, "and hopefully their winning attitude and their winning ways rubbed off on us, and now we can take off." Walker had surgery in January on his throwing elbow and said he still isn't 100 percent.

"I don't know if there was a lot on the throw," he said, "but it was on line, and that's the important part."

Castilla homered on a 1-1 pitch and said, "I was looking for a strike to try to hit a fly ball and get the run in to tie the game. It goes out, and that's even better."

Chuck McElroy (2-1) pitched 1 1/3 shutout innings for Colorado, which had dropped the previous two games in this series to the expansion Diamondbacks.

Travis Lee's solo homer in the sixth had given Arizona a 2-1 lead.

"The play by Walker in the top of the ninth got them some momentum," D-backs manager Buck Showalter said. "Then he made things happen in the bottom of the inning. He never slowed down (on his double). You see why he is arguably the best right fielder in the game."

Willie Blair and Pedro Astacio dueled to a 1-1 tie through five innings, but Lee's solo homer, his 10th, put Arizona ahead. The 438-foot shot sailed into the second deck in right field.

Blair, who pitched for Colorado in 1993 and 1994, went eight innings, allowing nly five hits with three walks and one strikeout.

Astacio had his best outing of the season. He went 7 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits with one walk and nine strikeouts.

Astacio wriggled out of a jam in the first. Andy Fox and Devon White opened the game with singles, but the Rockies then turned a double play when Lee struck out and Fox was caught trying to steal third on the pitch.

The Diamondbacks got a run in the second when Jay Bell singled with one out and went to third on Garcia's single. Kelly Stinnett hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop Neifi Perez, but Perez was unable to get the ball out of his glove and could get only a force at second, allowing the run to score.

The Rockies tied it in their half but squandered what could have been a bigger inning. Ellis Burks had an RBI single, but Castilla was caught in a rundown between third and home on a delayed double steal.

Notes

  • Arizona designated right-hander Scott Brow for assignment and recalled catcher Tom Wilson from Class AAA Tucson. Wilson was to take the place of catcher Damian Miller , who left the team to be with his expectant wife in Phoenix. But when Miller returned on Wednesday, Wilson was optioned and the Diamondbacks purchased the contract of infielder Mike Robertson .
  • Astacio's nine strikeouts represented a season high for a Rockies' pitcher.
  • The 2-hour, 11-minute game was the shortest nine-inning game in Coors Field history, surpassing by one minute Colorado's 6-2 win over Cincinnati on Sept. 9, 1995.

    © 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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