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Hawpe's homer rescues Rockies

Hawpe's homer rescues Rockies

DENVER -- Brad Hawpe and the Coors Field crowd learned their assignment together in the accelerated effort of the Rockies and their fans to perfect the art of the curtain call.

Hawpe did the heavy work with a two-run, eighth-inning homer to power the surging Rockies to their fourth straight victory, 6-5 over the Dodgers on Wednesday.

The fans, who have given longtime standout Todd Helton curtain calls twice this week, kept cheering loudly. Hawpe, whose 26th homer was the biggest of his career thus far, needed some instruction from bench coach Jamie Quirk and teammates before popping out of the dugout and giving a wave.

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"I don't think I ever had one," Hawpe said. "It was special."

"It's a blast," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's what you dream of doing when you're a little kid."

However, after the cheering at Coors had stopped, the Padres' Scott Hairston threw a wet blanket over the night with a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-3 victory over the Pirates. The National League Wild Card-leading Padres remained 4 1/2 games ahead of the surging Rockies, who have 10 games left. At least the Rockies moved ahead of the Dodgers.

The next move that must be perfected at Coors is honoring the player who has made so much of the recent run possible. Matt Holliday crushed two of the team's three home runs off Dodgers starter and noted Rockies nemesis Brad Penny. Yorvit Torrealba hit the other.

Holliday improved his home run total to a career-best 35 and lifted his league-leading RBI total to 128. Other than the fact he crushed another 3-0 pitch from Penny to deep center, falling just short of a third homer, the only damper was the crowd of 26,907 never quite found the timing for an "MVP" chant, even with three ear-rattling drum beats, and Holliday's image and big letters on the scoreboard.

But Holliday has gone deep 10 times in the last 11 games, and adds to his candidacy with each new day. But with Holliday showing no signs of backing off from a torrid pace that has him also leading the league with a .340 batting average, fans will have plenty of chances to practice chanting to the beat.

"It feels great anytime the crowd's into it," Holliday said. "They've given us an extra boost. This is a lot of fun. We respond with big hits and they appreciate it."

Making the playoffs is a tall order for the Rockies, who are eight games above .500 for the first time since July 6, 2000. But they aren't shrinking.

The Rockies, with starter Josh Fogg giving up eight scattered hits and three runs in five innings, carried a 4-3 lead into the sixth, but the Dodgers used an assortment of soft hits against reliever Ryan Speier to score twice and take the lead.

Brian Fuentes (2-5) pitched a perfect eighth, finishing it with a strikeout of James Loney. Garrett Atkins led off the Rockies' eighth with a single off Jonathan Broxton (4-4).

Pinch-runner Kazuo Matsui, making a surprise situational appearance after not playing since Sept. 8 because of a hamstring injury, barely beat a Russell Martin throw to steal second.

Hawpe, who had battled a virus last week and had gone 3-for-30 before his 2-for-4 performance Wednesday, lit into a Broxton slider with the count full. Hawpe remembered Broxton striking him out with a slider Tuesday night, and figured he would see another Wednesday when he saw Broxton shake off Martin's initial signal.

"I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it," Hawpe said. "If it hadn't gone, I'd have been pretty upset."

Manny Corpas overcame a Jeff Kent single to open the bottom of the ninth, benefiting from two strong throws from shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and a running catch in center field from Cory Sullivan. He completed his 16th save in as many chances since taking the role from Fuentes just before the All-Star break.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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