Helton, Rockies boost playoff hopes

Helton hits 300th homer as Rockies roll

DENVER -- The Rockies made a statement Sunday at Coors Field. It just might have come too late.

Colorado prevented a Marlins sweep with a 13-0 victory -- highlighted by Todd Helton's 300th career home run -- and remain a bit more than an afterthought in the National League Wild Card chase, 4 1/2 games back with 13 to play.

The Rox have teetered between contender and pretender for the past month. But with a four-game series starting Tuesday against the Dodgers, who are two games ahead of the Rockies, and three games against the Wild Card-leading Padres in San Diego, the Rockies will write their fortune by the end of the week.

"It's a huge week," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "Along with we're playing guys that are in front of us, we also only have two weeks left so we have to do something fast."

The Rockies moved fast Sunday to erase the memories of a three-game losing streak in which they were outscored, 29-12. Rookie Franklin Morales (2-2) went six scoreless innings, struck out five, walked none and faced the minimum through five innings.

After Hanley Ramirez started the game with a single, he was thrown out trying to steal second by Iannetta and Morales proceeded to retire the next 14 batters. Morales gave up back-to-back singles in the sixth and then retired his final three batters faced.

"We needed somebody to put a foot down and our youngest pitcher put his foot down," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Morales had his best command since his debut in Los Angeles on Aug. 18, when he went 5 1/3 innings and gave up one run. He could have gone deeper in the game, but a rain delay at the beginning of the sixth prevented him as he threw 25 pitches indoors to stay loose.

Morales mixed his fastball, changeup and breaking ball and kept hitters off balance.

"Stuff-wise he looked the same as he always does," Iannetta said. "He just threw a lot more strikes with his fastball and offspeed pitches. That's the difference for him."

Morales had the pressure to end the losing streak and keep the Rockies from falling from the postseason radar, but the Rockies offense quickly eased the tension.

Garrett Atkins, Iannetta, Matt Holliday and Helton all went deep in the first five innings to spot Morales an 11-0 lead. Helton's homer was the 300th of his career, and he received a curtain call for his accomplishment.

"That's the first curtain call I've ever had here and it's pretty neat," he said. "They did it up right."

Helton's 300th homer, which makes him the 115th player to accomplish the feat, comes one week after he became the first player in Major League history with 35 or more doubles for 10 straight seasons.

"It's just more fingerprints on a very elite position in the game, and one that you knock on wood and hopefully he'll end up in the Hall of Fame," Hurdle said. "He's been doing it for so long now, some remarkable milestones are being met and passed."

The Rockies finished with 20 hits and Helton, Atkins, Ryan Spilborghs and Jeff Baker all had three hits apiece. Holliday tied a career-high with four hits and has seven of his 32 homers in the last eight games.

C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.