Helton comes up big as Rockies beat D-backs

DENVER -- Todd Helton received a lengthy standing ovation from fans and his teammates after smacking his 500th career double.

That was simply a warmup act.

Helton followed up the milestone double by hitting the go-ahead homer in the eighth inning, propelling the Colorado Rockies to a 4-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.

"It was a good day," he said.

A good day, indeed.

Yet the ever-modest Helton downplayed the landmark hit. The homer was a different story.

"That got us the win," said Helton, who put the Rockies ahead for good with a solo shot to right-center off Arizona reliever Scott Schoeneweis (1-2).

In the third, the longtime Colorado first baseman laced a shot off the right-field scoreboard for the 500th double of his career. He becomes the 50th player in major league history to reach that milestone.

The game was halted briefly as the crowd gave Helton a hearty hand. There was a video tribute to him and a team employee came out to second base to switch out the bag for a keepsake.

All the while, Helton just stood at second, almost bashful about the occasion.

That's just him. He's never liked to be the center of attention, preferring to just quietly go about his business of being one of the best in the game.

"It was a neat moment, no doubt about it," said Helton, who will receive the bag and the ball from the game. "It was cool."

Even Diamondbacks starter Jon Garland thought so, clapping into his glove as the crowd serenaded him with applause.

"I respect the guy," Garland said.

Same with Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch. Although, he wishes the milestone would've come against someone else.

"The longevity and consistency it takes to put up that kind of number is pretty remarkable," Hinch said. "It doesn't look like there's any sign of letup."

Helton is actually feeling better than he has in a long while.

So much for a balky back slowing him down.

Helton missed most of last season as he struggled with a disk problem, leading to numbness in his leg that robbed him of his ability to dig in and drive pitches.

That power has returned.

"I feel good," said Helton, who hit his 11th homer of the season. "I feel like I'm getting stronger."

Helton grudgingly attended a postgame news conference, answering questions in a clipped but polite fashion, trying to divert attention from himself.

No matter, Rockies manager Jim Tracy picked up the slack for him.

"I think it's very safe to say that in any era of baseball you'd like to talk about, he'd be a great player," Tracy said. "There's nothing that he can't do. He lives for the big moment, like what took place in the eighth inning."

Schoeneweis threw a pitch he wouldn't mind having back.

"He sat on it. He got it," Schoeneweis said.

Juan Rincon (2-1) pitched a perfect eighth and Huston Street closed out the ninth for his 24th save in 25 chances.

Carlos Gonzalez, who's been mired in a slump that's cost him playing time, had two doubles and scored twice as the NL wild-card leading Rockies won two of three against the Diamondbacks.

Next up is a three-game series with San Francisco, who are hot on the heels of the Rockies in the wild-card race.

"It's an important series. But we're still in July," Brad Hawpe said. "Right now our concern is not with the wild card. We feel we're a division championship-type team. We're trying to play to that caliber."

Miguel Montero provided all the offense for Arizona, crushing a three-run homer off Ubaldo Jimenez in the third. Montero's ninth homer of the season smacked off the facing of the second deck, giving the Diamondbacks a 3-1 lead.

For Garland, it was another tough-luck no decision. He went seven innings, giving up three runs and five hits. He's now had five straight quality starts with just one win to show for it.

"To me, we're going out there and playing like a last-place team," Garland said. "I don't see any fight in them. I don't see anyone that wants it."

Game notes
Rockies RHP Jason Marquis will miss his start Friday night against San Francisco with a bothersome blister on his right middle finger. RHP Jason Hammel will take his spot. ... Arizona concluded its six-game road trip with a 2-4 record.