Iannetta's HR lifts Rockies' playoff hopes

BY foxsports • September 30, 2009

The only bigger surprise than the man whose homer sent the game into extra innings was the man whose homer ended it.

Pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta hit a two-run shot off David Weathers in the 11th inning to give the Colorado Rockies a 7-5 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday night. The Brewers had tied it on Jason Kendall's three-run shot in the ninth.

The Rockies widened their NL wild-card lead to three games over Atlanta with five games remaining, and their unlikely hero on this night was the backup catcher who lost his starting job last month when Yorvit Torrealba got into a groove at the plate.

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"It's tough because you want to play," Iannetta said. "Torry's been playing incredibly well and it's what needed to happen. I've been struggling for most of the year. He's come up big the last month and won some games for us ... so I understand it completely.

"But it doesn't change your desire to want to play and want to contribute. That's what I've said this whole time: I just want to be able to contribute - and it was great to do so."

His teammates were just as thrilled.

"It's good to see I-Man hit that home run right there," Todd Helton said. "Every time he goes up to the plate, you pull for him. He's such a good guy and he works really hard and it's a season-changer right there for him."

And maybe for the Rockies, who are on the cusp of clinching a playoff berth.

Iannetta, who homered off Weathers in Cincinnati earlier this season, sent a 3-2 fastball into the Rockies' bullpen in right-center for his 16th homer and first career game-ending drive.

One pitch before, Iannetta nearly went around for strike three but first base umpire Derryl Cousins ruled he held up.

"That's irrelevant," Weathers said when asked for his take. "You've got to go out there, make pitches, get people out and do your job. Tonight, I didn't make the pitch I needed to to get out of it and I paid the price. I was trying to throw a fastball away, it came back over and he hammered it."

The crowd of 39,087, pretty big for a Tuesday night in downtown Denver, let loose a loud cheer when the Braves' 5-4 loss to the Marlins was announced on the scoreboard in the middle of the sixth.

And there was a collective groan when Kendall, who also had a run-scoring groundout, hit a drive off closer Huston Street with one out in the ninth to tie it at 5.

Kendall has just one other homer in 433 at-bats this season.

"There's probably two people in the league that a home run never enters your mind — (David) Eckstein and Kendall," Street said. "And Kendall might actually be No. 1. He's my former teammate, he's a friend of mine, someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for in the game, but definitely not as a power hitter."

Street said he just left a pitch out over the plate.

"He spun a slider," Kendall said. "I was just trying to hit a liner up the middle. I don't hit home runs, he spun one and I got the good part of the bat on it. He just left it up."

Matt Belisle (3-1) picked up the win with a perfect 11th. Weathers (4-6) walked Brad Hawpe and got pinch-hitter Jason Giambi to pop out before Iannetta connected.

Jason Marquis gave up two earned runs and six hits in six innings, and was in line for his career-high 16th win before Street absorbed his second blown save of the season.

Despite failing for the fourth time to get his 16th win, Marquis said he felt as if he found his release point and answered questions about his worthiness for a postseason rotation spot.

Milwaukee left-hander Chris Narveson baffled all of the Rockies except Helton, who hit a run-scoring single in the first inning and chased him with an RBI double in the sixth that tied it at 2. The Rockies also scored a run in the seventh when Helton hit into a double play.

As for Street, he said as soon as Iannetta's homer cleared the wall, he had put aside his disappointment stemming from his first blown save since June 2 at Houston.

"When you win after a blown save, it doesn't really matter," Street said. "It matters, but barely."


The Brewers said 3B Casey McGehee will have surgery after the season to remove bone fragments from his right knee. ... Kendall's only other homer this season was Aug. 7 at Houston.

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