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  Monday, May 29 4:05pm ET
Rockies, Helton power past Astros

DENVER (AP) -- Todd Helton is making up for Larry Walker's absence by playing like him. Helton homered twice for the second time in three days, helping the Colorado Rockies rally past the Houston Astros 8-7 Monday. "As soon as you relax for a second, you're going to be in trouble and you're going to go downhill," Helton said. "You can't think like that. You've got to keep grinding." Helton homered leading off the second and broke a 7-all tie with a leadoff shot in the eighth off Jose Cabrera. "That's the best case scenario right there: you need a run and Todd Helton's up," Rockies pitcher Gabe White said. "It doesn't matter who's on the mound. He doesn't seem to care. He's going to hit another home run, and boom! There it is."

Helton has 11 hits in his last 16 at-bats (.687), raising his major league-leading average to .417.

"He's one of the best players in the game right now," Houston's Jeff Bagwell said. "He's maintaining it and he's done a tremendous job. He's coming through with the big hits."

Helton's offense is replacing that off Walker, the two-time NL batting champion who went on the disabled list May 13 because of a fractured right elbow.

"I don't think I've ever seen anybody swing the bat this long and as consistent as he has," Rockies manager Buddy Bell said.

With his fourth multihomer game this season, the 12th of his career, Helton raised his season home-run total to 17.

"I feel comfortable," Helton said. "It's totally mental. Even opposing teams come here and they know it's a great place to hit, and opposing pitchers come here and they're a little more tentative, and it just snowballs from there." Astros manager Larry Dierker said he told Cabrera to pitch Helton carefully.

"The whole idea was not to throw him any strikes," Dierker said. "And we threw the ball right down the middle to him twice. When you are facing the best hitter in the league, you are better off to walk him that to give him a pitch to hit."

The Astros dropped to 2-14 in one-run games this season. Houston's last four games have all been decided by one run, starting with last Friday's win over Atlanta, the Astros' first one-run victory this year. White (5-0) pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Jose Jimenez survived a two-hit ninth for his eighth save. Colorado has 209 runs in 23 home games, an average of 9.09.

"There's never a safe lead here, and you always have to keep trying to push more runs across," Bagwell said. " It's easy to get back into a game here. We scored seven runs _ their bullpen pretty much shut us down after that."

Richard Hildago went 3-for-3 with a three-run double for Houston, and Bagwell hit a 452-foot, two-run homer in the fourth.

Rockies starter Pedro Astacio allowed seven runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. Houston's Octavio Dotel gave up five runs, 10 hits and six walks in 5 1/3 innings. After Caminiti's homer off Astacio put the Astros ahead 7-4 in the sixth, pinch-hitter Jeffrey Hammonds hit an RBI single off Yorkis Perez in the bottom half and Colorado tied it in the seventh on run-scoring singles by Tom Goodwin and Mike Lansing off Cabrera. Lance Berkman's sacrifice fly put Houston ahead in the first. Helton's first homer and Brent Mayne's RBI single gave Colorado a 2-1 lead in the bottom half.

Hidalgo's three-run triple made it 4-2 Astros in the third, but Colorado came right back and tied it in the bottom half on Mayne's two-run single. Bagwell's two-run homer then gave Houston a 6-4 lead in the fourth.

Game notes
Bagwell needs two RBIs for 1,000. ... Houston has homered in 16 straight games, extending the team record set Sunday. ... The Astros have not been shut out in 79 games, the longest current streak in the NL.


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