Rockies Thump Houlton For Five in fifth, Win 11-1

Rookie D.J. Houlton struggled through four innings but held off the pesky Rockies, limiting them to four hits and a single run until the wheels fell off in the fifth inning and he gave up six hits, including a pair of home runs, and five runs. The Dodgers generated little offense, scoring in one run off Byung-Hyun Kim, who had limited them to a 2.81 earned run average over 54 career innings against the Dodgers.

If a fan had gone to sleep in the ninth inning of the first game and had awakened in the ninth inning of Saturday's contest, he wouldn't have been hard pressed to notice any difference. In both games the Rockies broke the game open, then kept pounding to take identical 11-1 leads into the ninth.

Houlton gave up 10 hits, six of them for extra bases and slipped to 5-8 in his shortest and worst start since July third against Arizona. The only thing that didn't change was his run support which could be only called puny.

Arizona stopped Milwaukee and the Dodgers fell a full seven games behind with both San Francisco and Arizona nipping at their heels. The realization that they must make a move soon or -- despite the mathematical tabulations -- it's going to be too late.

They have cut and pasted their injury-riddled lineup with second-liners, rejects and a vast array of rookies -- and through all that have somehow managed to hang around the fringe of the division race, looking for that elusive six-game winning streak that appeared only once, and that in the first month of the season.

With 27 games left in the season, Los Angles must win 20 of them to reach the break-even point at 81-81.

That means they need three six-game winning streaks. That just ain't going to happen folks.

This game was typical of the season -- little offense, scrappy pitching into the fifth or sixth, and an explosion that knocked the game into the "L" column before it could be stopped.

In only 4.2 innings, Houlton allowed 17 baserunners, six scored, five of them in the fifth. However, Houlton has received the least run support on the club, so one more run was all it would have taken to beat him.

The rookies that have seen action in the Major League pressure cooker, rather than at Las Vegas or Jacksonville has been priceless and will serve the club well in future seasons.

But had the club not been in the powderpuff N.L. West, they would have been working on next year's squad right now. Therefore it was both a curse and a blessing.

Colorado started off the way they finished the Friday game, a leadoff shot by Clint Barmes bounced into the left field stands for a double, a walk to Todd Helton -- a good move since Helton is hitting .438 (14-for-32) against L.A. this season -- and a two-out double over Jason Repko's head in center scored one Barmes but Repko recovered quickly, fired to Oscar Robles and his throw to Dioner Navarro nailed Helton at the plate by ten feet.

Colorado loaded the bases in the second with two out and at that point, seven of the first 10 Rockies batters had reached base. However, Houlton induced a broken-bat grounder to second and escaped further injury.

Jeff Kent singled to lead off the fourth inning, then scampered to third when Kim threw the ball into right field attempting a pickoff at first. Olmedo Saenz, who doubled his first trip to the plate, ripped a line drive to the wall in left-center, scoring Kent to tie the game 1-1. However when he attempted to stretch the hit into a triple, he was nipped at third.

Houlton had struggled all evening with runners on base but had held the Rockies to the single first inning run.

In both the second and fourth innings, Colorado got runners at first and second with one out. Twice Kim attempted to bunt them along but twice Navarro pounced on the ball and nailed the runners at third base, effectively killing each rally, although Houlton had to get a third out in each inning.

Houlton's luck suddenly ran out in the fifth inning. With one out Helton popped a handle hit into short right field and Matt Holliday singled. Brad Hawpe then boomed a shot on the first pitch he saw 448-feet into the Rockies' bullpen to plate three quick runs and Garrett Atkins connected on the first pitch for another homer into the bullpen.

After Luis Gonzalez flew to center, catcher Danny Ardoin doubled off the 390 sign in left field and Kim singled to drive him in with the fifth run of the inning. Kim advanced to second on the throw home when Houlton failed to back up the plate.

Elmer Dessens came in to end the fifth and then pitched two hitless and scoreless innings. Yhency Brazoban was not so fortunate. He worked the last of the eighth inning and, although he hit 97 on the speed gun, quickly gave up five runs, four earned due to a Kent error, before Franquelis Osoria mercifully ended the inning.

Dodger Blue Notes-- In a geographical oddity, Hee-Seop Choi faced his former high school teammate, Byung-Hyun Kim who started for the Rockies. Choi was 0-for-3 in the international contest. …Neither the Dodgers or the Rockies took infield or batting practice on the field before the game. …Dodger legend Fernando Valenzuela now a member of the Dodgers' Spanish broadcasting crew, said he was 95% certain he would pitch in the Mexican Winter League again this year. …Since joining the Dodgers, Jose Cruz is hitting .288 (15-for-52) with seven RBI in 19 games. …Sunday, Tom Lasorda will be the grand marshall of the Sony HD 500 NASCAR event at California speedway where he will start the race by waiving a green flag. He will then watch the race from the pit of Lucas Oil, a Dodger sponsor, which will have a Dodger logo on the truck of the car. …When Hong-Chih Kuo came into the game Friday night, it marked the 10th Dodger to make his Major League Debut. That is the most players debuted since 1988 when 11 appeared in their first game. Kuo is the 18th rookie this season, surpassing the total from 1988 and giving them the most rookies since 1995. … Dodger Hall of Fame Hispanic sportscaster Jaime Jarrin will broadcast the playoffs. He will do the Dodgers if they make it, if not he will work for ESPN covering the other teams.

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