Holliday, Rockies nip Diamondbacks in 11

DENVER (AP) -- No exciting walk-off homer this year. Only a soft groundball that was every bit as satisfying for the Colorado Rockies.

A year after Clint Barmes hit a game-winning homer on Opening Day, the Rockies pulled out a dramatic 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday when Matt Holliday dashed home on a grounder and dived in ahead of the throw for the winning run in the 11th

With one out, Holliday and pinch-hitter Jason Smith hit
back-to-back singles off Jason Grimsley, putting runners at the corners for Brad Hawpe, who grounded softly to first baseman Conor Jackson.

Jackson was playing in on the grass and didn't grab the ball cleanly out of his glove. That split second was all Holliday needed to slide headfirst across the plate before the throw got to catcher Chris Snyder.

"I rushed it a little bit," Jackson said. "I couldn't get a good grip on it. It was a bang-bang play, a 50-50 shot. We had talked about it right before that if it was a ball to me, I was
going home no matter what. If he was staying I wasn't going to turn two. I knew I was going home the whole way, I just couldn't get it quick enough."

And Colorado had its second straight dramatic Opening Day win.

"I just went on contact, as soon as I saw the downward angle on the ball," Holliday said. "Good thing it wasn't hit that hard."

With two strikes, Hawpe was just trying to make contact.

"I'm going to take a win any way I can get it," he said.

Hawpe insisted this win was just as gratifying as last year's 12-10 win on Opening Day.

"A win's a win and on opening night there's nothing more special," he said. "It's just a good way to start the season."

The Rockies aren't going to get carried away, however, which they admit they did last year, when they followed their thrilling opener by losing their next eight games.

"It's not like we're going to sit here on this one and rest on that for a while. We've got to pick back up on Wednesday and come back at them and keep grinding," Hawpe said. "Because we battled today."

Mike DeJean pitched a scoreless inning for the victory.

Both lineups were baffled by starting pitchers with especially sharp sinkers on a cool afternoon at Coors Field. Arizona ace Brandon Webb allowed one run on five hits in seven innings. Jason Jennings allowed one run on six hits over seven innings for Colorado despite being weakened by a 24-hour bug that had him doubting on Sunday that he'd be able to make his start.

Jennings, who also drove in Colorado's first run, walked one and struck out six in his first start since July 20, 2005, when he broke his right middle finger trying to break up a double play at Washington.

He was lifted for pinch-hitter Eli Marrero with a runner at third and two outs in the bottom of the seventh with the score tied at 1. Marrero flied out weakly to shortstop Craig Counsell.

Left-hander Ray King, acquired from St. Louis in the offseason, replaced Jennings and allowed a single to Counsell leading off the eighth. Todd Helton charged in from first base to field Orlando Hudson's sacrifice bunt attempt but threw wildly past the bag trying to get Hudson and the runners ended up and second and third with nobody out.

Counsell then scored on Chad Tracy's chopper over the mound to give the Diamondbacks a 2-1 lead.

Helton atoned for his error with an RBI double off Terry Mulholland in the eighth to tie the game.

"Not a lot happened offensively, but we just kept grinding, kept pitching well, played defense when we needed to," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "But we pitched our way to that victory today."

Colorado's revamped bullpen made an impressive debut with four scoreless innings, including one from 39-year-old former closer Jose Mesa.

"We got to watch everybody in spring training and these guys come with some pretty good numbers on the back of their bubble gum cards," Hurdle said. "They've done some things, pitched in some big ballgames. ... Jose's not going to flutter, King's not going to flutter."

Game notes
Diamondbacks right-handers Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino, both members of the 2005 World Series champion White Sox, left for Chicago after the game to take part on Tuesday's ceremonies and receive their rings at U.S. Cellular Field. Hernandez is slated to start Wednesday's game in Denver. ... The Rockies distributed a regular season-record 50,732 tickets to the game.