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Hawpe saves the day for Rockies

Hawpe saves the day for Rockies

DENVER -- Brad Hawpe and the Rockies finally swung back at the D-backs on Wednesday night.

Hawpe's two-run homer in the eighth inning gave the Rockies just enough to defeat the National League West co-leading D-backs for just the second time in 11 games this season, 6-5, at Coors Field in front of 30,247. The Rockies still have a way to go to catch the D-backs and the Dodgers, each of whom have eight games on them. It's hard to brag much about a singular win when the Rockies have to make up for a disappointing (3-6) homestand that ends with the deciding game of this set Thursday afternoon.

"I don't think guys pay too much attention to it in here," said Hawpe, who improved his home run total to 19 and had two doubles and a walk in addition to his winning hit Wednesday. "We try to forget about it.

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"I know our record hasn't been good. That being said, they're in first place for a reason."

The Rockies, playing their second straight game without first baseman Garrett Atkins (strep throat), avoided just enough of the problems that have put them closer to fourth place than first.

"We needed to win a ballgame, and we were able to do some things we've struggled to do with a lot of consistency," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

The Rockies benefited from solo shots off D-backs starter Doug Davis by Ian Stewart and Clint Barmes. Hurdle moved Barmes to the leadoff spot in place of Willy Taveras, who went 2-for-4 as the No. 2 hitter.

Early-season ace Jeff Francis, who has struggled through a shoulder injury and inconsistency all year, displayed the command of old most of the way while giving up three runs -- one on a Chad Tracy leadoff homer in the fifth -- and six hits in six innings.

"I felt I was getting a little further down the mound, making better quality pitches, hitting some spots and getting ahead in the count," said Francis, who made his second start since returning from the disabled list.

Manuel Corpas let an inherited runner score and also gave up Chris Young's RBI single to tie the game, 4-4. But Taylor Buchholz (5-3) pitched a scoreless eighth.

Chris Iannetta doubled off Jon Rauch (4-3), who suffered his first loss since arriving in a trade with the Nationals. Hawpe, figuring Rauch would stick to the D-backs' season-long plan of challenging him high and inside, drove a 1-0 fastball over the right-field wall for a two-run lead.

Hawpe is one of few Rockies displaying the spirit of 2007.

This year, as last, he has turned hot late in the year, with hits in 12 of his last 15 games and a .318 batting average and 15 homers since returning from a hamstring injury on June 6.

"He's a good hitter," Hurdle said. "He didn't get off to his cleanest shot, but he's responded well."

Brian Fuentes (22 saves) survived a ninth that saw him give up a Stephen Drew RBI single with one out, strike out Young with two on base. With the bases loaded and the count full, Fuentes worked a a grounder from the dangerous Adam Dunn.

"I'm going to pitch to my strengths 99 percent of the time," said Fuentes, who said he was unfazed by the fact Dunn entered with 32 home runs, tied for the Major League lead with the Phillies' Ryan Howard. "In that situation, I'm not going to get beat with my third-best pitch."

Thomas Harding 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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