Loss Can’t Spoil Helton’s Magical Night
DENVER (AP) — Todd Helton homered, doubled and drove in three runs in his final game at Coors Field, but the Boston Red Sox used Will Middlebrooks’ two homers and career-high seven RBIs to beat the Colorado Rockies 15-5 Wednesday night.
Helton also had a sacrifice fly in his Colorado farewell. The first baseman is retiring at the end of his 17th season with the Rockies.
Middlebrooks hit his third career grand slam and a three-run homer. The Red Sox, who clinched the AL East title last week, moved two games ahead of Oakland for the best record in the league and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
David Ortiz hit a two-run double to reach 100 RBIs this season. Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t take long to energize the Red Sox lineup as he returned after missing 16 games with a fractured right foot — he singled, walked and scored twice before being replaced in the fourth.
Jake Peavy (12-5) settled down after a shaky start to earn his first win since Aug. 31. He allowed five runs and gave up eight hits in six innings.
Jhoulys Chacin (14-10) was chased early, surrendering seven runs and nine hits in four innings, tying his shortest outing of the season.
The Rockies staged quite a pregame show to honor Helton, complete with highlights of his playing days on the video screen. The team also mowed his number (17) into the outfield grass, along with painting a purple and white “17″ along both base lines.
Helton’s daughter threw out the first pitch as his wife, younger daughter and good friend Peyton Manning watched from the side. At the end of it all, the Rockies presented Helton with a horse to ride on his Colorado ranch.
Once the game started, Helton started his own show, hitting a fastball from Peavy into the right-field seats in the second. He also had an RBI on a sacrifice fly and an RBI double off the wall in left.
Throughout the game, former teammates and coaches appeared on the video board to talk about Helton, who holds virtually every offensive record in team history.
Cleveland slugger Jason Giambi boasted about him, so did Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, who was in charge of the Rockies when they went to the 2007 World Series and were swept by Boston.
Even Manning weighed in on Helton’s career.
“Thanks for retiring and making me the oldest Denver athlete,” said the Broncos star quarterback, who was teammates with Helton on the football team at the University of Tennessee.
Helton received plenty of ovations over the course of the night. None as boisterous as when he hit the homer. After crossing home plate, Helton tipped his cap to the crowd before going into the dugout.
The roar of the fans brought him back out for another bow.
As a final tribute, Helton’s daughters walked out to first base before the start of the final inning. They gave him a quick kiss and were given the base as a keepsake.
Shane Victorino and Middlebrooks rained on Helton’s celebration. Victorino broke a 4-all tie in the fourth with his three-run homer to left. Middlebrooks followed an inning later with a three-run homer over the scoreboard in right field to make it 10-4.
That was more than enough for Peavy, who settled into a groove after his rocky start. He is now 4-1 with a 4.03 ERA since being acquired from the Chicago White Sox on July 30.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had four hits and drove in three runs for Boston.
Ellsbury showed some rustiness in the field, though, as he took a step in on Yorvit Torrealba’s liner, only to have it sail over his head in center field for an RBI double.
Michael Cuddyer was 1 for 3 with a walk to maintain his lead in the NL batting race with a .335 average.
NOTES: Red Sox 1B Mike Napoli (left foot) sat out a fourth straight game. … After a day off, RHP Clay Buchholz (11-1) will pitch for Boston on Friday in Baltimore. … The Rockies handed out 35,000 Helton bobblehead dolls. … Torrealba left the game in the sixth with a bruised right thumb.
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