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Helton's pink swing helps lift Rockies

Helton's pink swing helps lift Rockies

DENVER -- The Mother's Day pink bat was dangerous in the hands of Rockies first baseman Todd Helton in Sunday afternoon's 3-2 victory over the Marlins at Coors Field.

Helton tripled in the first inning -- his first three-bagger since he knocked two against the Astros at Coors Field on June 5, 2007. His RBI double in the fifth drove in the difference-making run.

"Yeah," Helton said. "I'm going to use it tomorrow."

The Rockies are off on Monday, so batting practice might have a different look. The success on Sunday was nice, but Helton made the decision to go pink for a good cause.

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Pink bats have become annual Mother's Day symbols as part of an overall "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative by Major League Baseball that raises awareness about breast cancer and directs proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Fans play the next big role in this process, because attention will move now to the MLB.com Auction and the gradual arrival of game-used pink bats, home plates and logo bases and lineup cards. Fans also can purchase their own personalized "Mother's Day 2009" pink bats right now for $79.99 apiece at the MLB.com Shop, with $10 from the sale of each one going to Komen.

Pink bats were issued to several Rockies before the game.

Swinging one is an annual labor of love for third baseman Garrett Atkins, whose mother, Diana, survived a 1994 bout with the disease. Chris Iannetta and Ryan Spilborghs also swung pink. Some who were issued pink bats chose to keep them as souvenirs or to use in other ways to raise awareness. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki elected to leave his shiny new bat in the locker, but he homered and singled with his regular bat.

Besides cancer awareness, players are happy to wear pink just to express thanks.

Players also wore various pink items such as wristbands in addition to the pink ribbons on their uniforms. Infielder Omar Quintanilla, who made his first start of the season on Sunday, wore a pink chain-link necklace.

"They have those in the clubhouse," Quintanilla said. "Mother's Day is a really special day. She brought you into this world. You should thank her for all she's done for us."

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, who has received fan and media pressure because of the team's slow start to the season, used the day to think about his mother, Louise, whose advice for him hasn't changed since childhood.

"Every time I've ever talked to my mother over the phone or every time I've ever gone to prepare for a game, it was the last thing out of her mouth before I'd go to play, 'Give it everything you've got,'" Hurdle said. "She said the same thing today.

"My mom said, 'Did you read the paper this morning?' I said, 'No, Mom, I'm petty much aware of what's going on because they ask me the questions.' That's one of the things they've helped me with. They've helped me to deal with adversity, be accountable and be responsible. I depend upon my mom and my dad for strength. I depend upon my wife, Karla, for strength."

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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