Middlebrooks' big night leads Red Sox past Rockies
Todd Helton showed a flair for the dramatic in his final game at Coors Field. Will Middlebrooks found a place on the stage as well.
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.
''It's good to see him in the stretch he's been in of late, to not only drive the ball out of the ballpark but stay on the ball and drive it out to right field,'' Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Middlebrooks. ''That's when we feel like he's got good plate coverage and he's at his best.''
Middlebrooks went the opposite way to right with a three-run shot off Rob Scahill in the fifth and pulled an 0-2 curveball off Roy Oswalt into left for his second slam this month.
''When I'm hitting the ball well, it goes all over the place,'' Middlebrooks said. ''He fooled me. He threw me a slow curveball and I thought he was going to speed me up. I was late on a swing before when he threw me a heater and I thought he was going to throw another one. But he threw a 64, 65 mph curveball, and it caught me a little off guard.''
Still, he got enough of it to knock it out of the park and break the game wide open.
''It was an up and down night to be honest,'' Middlebrooks said. ''I had a couple of bad at bats and a couple of good at bats. But I can't complain. It ended up being a good night, because it helped us win the game.''
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.
''First at bat, it looked like he didn't miss at any time at all,'' Farrell said. ''He came out of it feeling the same as when he started, so that was the most important thing.''
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 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.
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.
Victorino, Peavy and Middlebrooks were among a dozen or so Red Sox players who hung around the visitors' dugout to extend their congratulations to Helton, who took a post-game farewell lap around the stadium.
''Oh yeah, I shook his hand,'' Middlebrooks said. ''I wasn't going to miss it. It was pretty special, special to just be in the stadium tonight, especially in that first at bat. That first homer gave you goose bumps even on the opposing side. It was a pretty special night all around.''
Peavy said he always admired and respected the way Helton played the game.
''I just wanted him to know how much I appreciated the way he went about things,'' Peavy said. ''Me and Todd have had many many matchups like we had tonight, and I'm not going to miss him in retirement on the baseball field.''
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had four hits and drove in three runs for Boston.