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Holliday-powered offense takes flight

Holliday's homer lifts offense out of doldrums

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DENVER -- The Rockies' offense came out of hiding, at last, behind ringleader Matt Holliday, who showed why so many people think he was the National League's MVP in 2007.

His three-run homer off Hideki Okajima in the seventh inning gave rabid, towel-waving Coors Field fans a World Series thrill to remember. It turns out it was too little, too late to halt the runaway Red Sox Express, but there were sincere expressions of belief throughout the Rockies' clubhouse in the aftermath of the 10-5 loss in Game 3 on Saturday night.

"It brought all kinds of momentum in our dugout," Rockies reliever Matt Herges said, having made his own imprint by striking out the side in the seventh inning. "It was, 'Hey, there's our guy.' That ball exploded off his bat. It gave us hope -- not that we ever lost it.

"If there's ever been a team I've been around that can come back from a three-game deficit, it's us."

On the brink of getting swept into the offseason after a ride with few equals in the game's history, the Rockies were left with the hope that Holliday's blast stirred something within them -- something they can carry to a happier Game 4 ending on Sunday night.

"In the last couple months, I don't think there was one point where we thought we were going to lose," Ryan Spilborghs said, having an inning earlier just missed planting a three-run homer in the same location Holliday launched his. "Even that 13-1 loss [in Game 1], we still thought we had a chance to get back in that game.

"We might have some silly guys in here, but we always think we're going to find a way to win. We could have something special for you to write about tomorrow ... and the day after ... and the day after that."

There were positive signs beyond Holliday's big fly in a Colorado offense that delivered 11 hits, matching its hit total in two games in Boston when it generated just two runs.

Notably productive were Kazuo Matsui, with three singles, and Brad Hawpe and Yorvit Torrealba, with two hits apiece.

Thrust back into the leadoff spot in an effort to jump-start the attack, Matsui certainly did his part. His single and steal in the seventh, followed by Troy Tulowitzki's single, preceded Holliday's mammoth blast to dead center that removed Okajima's aura of invincibility. The Japanese southpaw had dominated the Rockies in Game 2 in Boston, striking out four of seven hitters he faced, retiring them all.

Holliday, who has five of the Rockies' eight postseason homers and a club-high 10 RBIs, had a crack at another three-run bomb in the eighth. But he was unable to time Jonathan Papelbon's heater on the sweet spot.

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The drive to left brought gasps from the hopeful crowd leaving the bat, but it didn't have enough carry. It fell in the glove of Manny Ramirez, short-circuiting the final Rockies threat.

"Quarter of an inch off the barrel," Holliday said, his mood less than festive as he was surrounded by camera crews. "We've got to go out there tomorrow and put it all on the line."

The Rockies thought they were back in business when Holliday turned on Papelbon's heater.

"I jumped up to the top step of the dugout," Herges said. "It just got in on him a little. He missed it by an inch, maybe, in the middle of the bat. In July, it was gone. Same with Spilly's ball."

Spilborghs was facing Mike Timlin with two on in the sixth, the Rockies having scored twice -- RBI singles by Hawpe and Torrealba -- after a pair of walks got Daisuke Matsuzaka out of the game.

Lifting his drive to center, arcing toward the 415 sign, Spilborghs thought it had a chance. Jacoby Ellsbury caught it a stride from the wall.

"I hit it almost as perfectly as I could," Spilborghs said. "On a warmer day, it might have had a chance."

Asked if he felt the Rockies were close to regaining the magic that lifted them to wins in 21 of 22 games coming into the Fall Classic, Spilborghs shook his head.

"We never thought we lost the magic," he said. "Even in the ninth inning tonight, we thought we were going to come back and win. The magic is there.

"We're the same guys. We're playing good baseball. They're playing great baseball -- I'm not going to take anything away from them. We've just got to match it."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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