Rox ride Helton's heroics in extras

Rox ride Helton's heroics in extras

PITTSBURGH -- Colorado first baseman Todd Helton crushed a two-run, 10th-inning home run off Jose Mesa, and the Rockies posted a 5-3 win in front of 35,262 at PNC Park on Friday night.

It was home run No. 11 for Helton on the season, and it tagged Mesa with loss dropping his record to 1-6.

"That's a big hit off one of the better closers you're going to run into," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "For [Helton], he's really been grinding this year and he's taken this whole year and his approach to a very professional level. He's trying to lead by example and lead by action and you don't get a bigger hit than that in a ballgame. We're real happy we have him."

Helton was 0-6 at the plate his last time in Pittsburgh back in May.

"I feel a little better this time in," Helton offered. "It's all about how you feel when you get to a place. A lot of times it's not who's pitching or the park or anything like that. I enjoy playing here. I love the city and love the ballpark."

It was the Rockies first extra-inning victory of the season after going 0-3.

"Well, I think there's some things that have happened lately on this road trip -- one-run victories and even tonight taking another one-run lead into the ninth," Hurdle said. "[It was great] to come back from a missed opportunity to close it out, [with] a big hit for Helton and our club and a big pick-me-up from Cortes with his first Major League save. So that was a great team win."

Pittsburgh tied the score at 3 in the bottom of the ninth when Colorado closer Brian Fuentes was unable to hold a one-run lead. It was his third blown save of the season. Matt Lawton delivered a clutch RBI single to tie the score, 3-3, and set up Helton's heroics.

Fuentes got the win upping his record to 2-3. Right-hander David Cortes pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the tenth inning and recorded a scoreless frame to notch his first save.

"It was a good game," Fuentes said. "I wish I could have closed it out in the ninth. I felt good -- I felt really good coming in the game I thought I made some really good pitches and I tip my hat to those guys. Lawton hit a heck of a pitch that was away and Sanchez blooped the one up the middle. It was just a good job of hitting with two strikes. I'm happy I attacked the strike zone. I've been having a problem with that lately. I ended up pitching out of that jam and Todd comes up and hits a two-run homer off Jose Mesa, who's been pretty clutch this year. Cortes came in and got it done, so I guess it's good enough."

The Rockies wasted a good effort from starting right-handed pitcher Jamey Wright, who tossed six innings and surrendered two runs on seven hits, as he received a no-decision.

"That's back-to-back outings where [Wright has] just been absolutely lights-out through five," Hurdle said. "He did the same thing in Cincinnati and then ran into some trouble. He dug a hole immediately with a walk and then the ball was just up. He hung a couple of breaking balls ... put himself and the team in a precarious position. It's a good start -- a quality start -- two runs in six innings. We'll take that every time out."

Wright was pleased with his outing.

"For the first five innings I threw the ball really well," Wright said. "I actually forgot that we scored two runs in the top half of the inning -- so I kind of pitched like I had a 1-0 lead the first few batters instead of going right after them. I kind of picked a little bit."

Wright got out of his big jam in the sixth by picking Jose Castillo off at second base to end the inning.

"I saw where he was getting way out there," Wright said. "And I stepped off one time and I was hoping somebody would notice that I wanted to try and get him closer. Once [he] broke, I knew we had him."

Pittsburgh starter Kip Wells got a no-decision after pitching seven innings and allowing three runs on five hits. He recorded seven strikeouts.

Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday smacked his fifth home run of the campaign, a solo shot off Wells in the top of the fourth, to provide the Rockies with a 1-0 lead.

"We've been anxiously awaiting [Holliday's] return," Hurdle said. "But since that first night, he's bounced back. He's taking better swings and he's been aggressive all over. He helps our offense, our defense and our speed on the bases."

The Rockies upped the advantage to 3-0 in the top of the sixth inning. The big blow was a two-run double by Garrett Atkins with the bases loaded.

The Pirates broke through against Wright in the bottom of the sixth inning. Matt Lawton walked and scored on a RBI double by Jason Bay. Bay then scored on a RBI groundout by Rob Mackowiak, cutting the Rockies' lead to one.

The win for the Rockies was a big boost to team morale.

"We've had some disappointments this year, especially on the road, and it was good to pull out a victory," Helton said.

George Von Benko is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.