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Rockies win fourth in a row

DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado Rockies are starting to find ways to
win games instead of losing them.

They did it with defense this time.

Todd Greene homered and had three RBI, and the Rockies made two
spectacular defensive plays in the eighth inning to beat the
Cincinnati Reds 8-6 Sunday for their fourth-straight victory and
first sweep this season.

"For a team that has been challenged defensively, we threw the
leather around today as good as we have in a long time," Rockies
manager Clint Hurdle said. "From start to finish, we were as good
as we've been all season."

Especially near the finish.

Cincinnati pulled to 7-6 in the eighth on Felipe Lopez's RBI
single and had runners at second and third with no outs against
Blaine Neal (1-1).

The Rockies wouldn't let the Reds get any closer.

Joe Randa hit a hard liner toward the hole on the right side,
but first baseman Todd Helton sprawled out to make the catch. Desi
Relaford followed with an even better play, diving to snare Sean
Casey's grounder and wheeling just in time to get pinch-runner Luis
Lopez at the plate.

Brian Fuentes, who came in to face Casey, then struck out Ken
Griffey Jr. to end the inning and pitched a perfect ninth for his
fifth save.

Clint Barmes added a solo homer in the eighth for Colorado, on
its longest winning streak since taking four straight last July
3-6. It also was the Rockies' first sweep of Cincinnati since Aug.
6-8, 2002.

"We played well today and things are going well for us," said
Helton, who was 3-for-5 for his first multi-hit game since May 14.

The Reds wish they could say the same.

Cincinnati's chief operating officer John Allen flew to Denver
before the game to talk with manager Dave Miley about the direction
of the struggling franchise.

It didn't help.

Cincinnati had 13 hits and Casey hit his third homer, but the
Reds left 10 runners on to lose their fifth straight and 14th in 17
road games.

"In baseball anything can happen and we were hoping for better
on the road trip -- that's a definite and it didn't work out,"
Miley said.

Reds starter Brandon Claussen was shaky early, giving up two
runs in the first on consecutive run-scoring doubles by Preston
Wilson and Dustan Mohr.

He seemed to settle in over the next four innings, scattering
four hits, before running into trouble in the sixth.

Claussen walked Mohr, then Greene hit his next pitch out to left
for a two-run shot -- his third in five games -- to tie the game at
4. Garrett Atkins followed with a double off the base of the wall
in center and Claussen was lifted after Cory Sullivan's sacrifice
bunt.

Eddy Garabito then lined a single off Ryan Wagner (2-2) through
a drawn-in infield for his first career RBI to put Colorado up 5-4.

Claussen allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"Leadoff guys got on a couple of times, so I was pitching in
some jams," Claussen said. "We were getting the job done. It's a
game where one pitch can make you or break you and today it broke
me."

Rockies starter Jason Jennings pitched just well enough to keep
the Rockies in it.

He walked in a run in the first inning and gave up three more in
the third on Casey's two-run homer and Rich Aurilia's RBI single.

Jennings allowed four runs -- twice as many as he had in 14
innings the previous two starts -- and nine hits. He also walked
three, pushing his league-leading total to 45, but the Rockies
trailed just 4-2 when he left in the fifth inning.

"It was one of those days," Jennings said. "It's not always
going to be pretty. I battled and got outs when I needed to."

The Reds had plenty of chances after that, but couldn't come
through.

They had the bases loaded with no outs against Bobby Seay in the
seventh and managed just one run. Neal got Austin Kearns to hit
into a double play, tying the game at 7, then struck out Aurilia to
end the inning.

Colorado went up 7-5 in the bottom half on an RBI single by
Greene and Atkins' run-scoring double off Wagner. Greene tripped
just before reaching home plate and was replaced by J.D. Closser
after limping to the dugout with a strained hamstring.

Then came Colorado's defensive gems in the eighth.

"They made six or seven plays defensively that I don't' know if
the right word is phenomenal or what, but every play they made were
big plays for them," Miley said.

Game notes
Cincinnati's Adam Dunn has walked in 10 straight games, the
longest streak in the majors this season and three short of the
club record he set in 2002. ... Rockies LF Matt Holliday was given
the day off to rest a slight pinkie sprain. ... A fan sitting in
the upper deck behind home plate was escorted out of the stadium in
the fifth inning after dropping a beer on someone sitting in the
lower deck.