Clayton's brilliant 'D' preserves victory

DENVER (AP) -- A little too old, a little too pricey, Royce Clayton was the kind of player the Colorado Rockies decided they'd
have to do without this season. Oh, what the Rockies would have
given to have him wearing their uniform Thursday night, instead of

Clayton made a brilliant play on Todd Greene's sharply hit
grounder to start a double play in the seventh, preserving a
one-run lead and sparking the Diamondbacks to a 6-3 victory.

"Clayton's play may have been the best play we have seen this
year," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "That ball was not
catchable, and it short hops, and somehow he gets his glove up and
turns it into a double play."

Jose Cruz Jr. hit two solo homers -- the 12th multihomer game of
his career -- including one in the top of the seventh off Shawn Chacon (1-3) that gave the Diamondbacks a 3-1 lead.

Lance Cormier relieved Russ Ortiz (3-2) with two on in the
bottom of the inning and a two-run lead. After an RBI groundout by
Preston Wilson, Greene came up and hit a bullet to short. Clayton
snared it, threw to Craig Counsell and Counsell retired the
slow-running catcher with ease.

"That ball was absolutely leaned on," said Todd Helton, who
was on second when it shot past him. "I don't know if he could
make that play again. It was a 1-in-100 chance, but the reason he
did it is because he's a heck of a defender."

It was precisely the kind of play that justified Arizona
spending $1.3 million to sign the 35-year-old shortstop in the
offseason, and precisely the kind of play the rebuilding Rockies,
who fell to 9-23, haven't made enough of this season.

Their bigger problems in this loss, though, came at the plate,
where they stranded 12 runners and wasted another strong start by

Chacon allowed three runs and six hits over eight innings. His
ERA actually crept up a bit, to 3.28, but he is still by far
Colorado's most unfortunate starter. The Rockies have averaged only
three runs in his six starts.

"It's frustrating, but that's my job, to go out and keep us in
the ballgame," Chacon said.

Cruz hit his third and fourth homers of the season just three
days after coming off the disabled list with a strained lower back.
Before the game, Melvin said he was concerned about playing Cruz on
a night like Thursday -- with temperatures in the low 50s and a
chilly wind blowing in from left field.

The back didn't take too much strain in this one, though.

"I didn't have to run too much today," Cruz said. "Jogging
around the bases was all right."

Two batters after Cruz hit his second homer -- this one off
reliever David Cortes -- Tony Clark hit a two-run homer to make it

Brandon Lyon pitched the ninth for Arizona, allowing one run. It
was not a save situation, however, so Lyon wasn't able to add to
his major league-leading total of 13.

Ortiz, meanwhile, allowed eight hits and two runs over six-plus
innings of a tight battle with Chacon. The Arizona pitcher extended
his winning streak to five games against Colorado; his last loss to
the Rockies came May 24, 2002, when he was with San Francisco.

Luis Gonzalez snapped an 0-for-11 skid with an RBI single in the
third off Chacon. Chad Tracy hit a solo homer in the sixth to put
Arizona ahead 2-1.

Playing in front of an announced crowd of 18,184 -- the smallest
in Coors Field history -- Helton continued to emerge from his early
season slump, with three hits, including a solo homer in the third.
He is 18-for-42 with three homers and seven RBI in May.

But the rest of the Rockies continue to struggle hitting in the
clutch. They were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

"If anyone finds a big two-out grand slam on the way home, drop
it off in my office," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "I'll be
looking for one on the way home."

Game notes
Helton started the day batting .307, the first time he's
been above .300 since April 17. ... After leading the major leagues
with 139 errors last season, Arizona has committed 14 this year --
on pace to make only 64. ... Clark's pinch-hit home run was the
third of his nine-year career.