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Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Helton homers in the clutch

MLB Notebook: Helton homers in the clutch

MLB Notebook: Helton homers in the clutch
Over a 21-year career that began in Cincinnati on April 17, 1956, and ended (at least as a player) on Sept. 18, 1976, in Cleveland, Frank Robinson hit 586 home runs.

At the end of the 1976 season, that total was good for fourth all-time, behind Babe Ruth and a couple of Robinson's contemporaries -- Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.

For Robinson, homers Nos. 80, 289, 455, 492 and 584 all had something in common -- they represented game-ending home runs. All came when Robinson's team, before his blast, was on the losing end of the contest. Dating back to 1948, those five come-from-behind, game-ending home runs represent the most by any single player, with Fred McGriff also hitting five.

Helton
Trailing by a run and down to their last out, the Rockies defeated the D-backs, 8-7, Saturday on Todd Helton's two-run home run.

Helton has seven career game-ending home runs, tying him with Andruw Jones, Johnny Damon, Chipper Jones and Jason Giambi for seventh-most among active players. Jim Thome has 12 (which is also tied for the all-time record), David Ortiz and Albert Pujols each have 10, Alex Rodriguez has nine and Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn each have eight.

This homer marked the third time Helton has hit a walk-off home run with his team behind. Those three tie him with Rodriguez for the fourth most among active players. Thome, Zimmerman and Ortiz each have four.

Dodgers
The Dodgers beat the Padres, 6-1, on the strength of a pair of two-run home runs from Matt Kemp and a solo home run from Andre Ethier.

Kemp and Ethier have now homered in the same game 16 times. This game marked the second time it had happened this season (also on April 8). In 2010, they homered in the same game seven different times.

Kemp (15 RBIs) and Ethier (14) are ranked first and second in the Majors in RBIs. Those respective totals have come after the Dodgers' first nine games.

• Kemp's total of 15 RBIs through the Dodgers' first nine games is the second highest for the club, dating back to 1918. Ethier's 14 are the third most. The only Dodgers player since '18 to have more RBIs through the club's first nine games was Roy Campanella, with 16 in '53.

• Dating back to 1918, Kemp and Ethier are two of 81 players to have at least 14 RBIs through their team's first nine games, but they are the only pair of teammates to do it in the same year.

Los Angeles owns the best record in the Majors, at 8-1. In the modern era, the Dodgers have won at least eight of their first nine games in the following seasons: 1940 (9-0), '43 (8-1), '46 (8-1), '52 (8-1), '55 (9-0), '81 (8-1) and 2012 (8-1). The 1919 club also started the season 8-1, with a 20-inning tie in their sixth game.

Red Sox
The Red Sox pounded out 10 extra-base hits (five doubles and five home runs) in their 13-5 victory against the Rays. Since the start of the 2011 season, Boston has had four games with at least 10 extra-base hits, with the other 29 teams combining for a total of 12 such games.

Ortiz went 4-for-5 with five RBIs and hit his first home run of the season. Since joining the Red Sox in 2003, Ortiz owns nine games with at least five runs driven in. That total ties him with Dwight Evans for eighth most by a Red Sox player since 1918. Ted Williams had 24 such games, Manny Ramirez and Jim Rice are tied for the second most with 15, and Bobby Doerr is third, with 11. Vern Stephens, Carl Yastrzemski and Mo Vaughn are tied for the fifth most, with 10.

Seven of Ortiz's five-RBI games have come at Fenway Park, tying him with Vern Stephens and Doerr for the fifth most since 1918. The top-four: Ramirez (11), Williams (10), Rice (10) and Jimmie Foxx (8). Two of Foxx's eight were as a member of the Athletics. As a visiting player, Vic Wertz (five) has the most games with five-plus RBIs at Fenway Park, since '18.

Nationals
Washington's Edwin Jackson threw a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and a walk in assembling his fifth career complete-game victory. Jackson's start produced a game score (an equation used to measure a pitcher's dominance) of 87, which tied Chad Billingsley for the second highest of the season.

Jackson's 87 was the highest score for a Nationals pitcher since Livan Hernandez put up an 87 on June 15, 2011. The last time a pitcher posted a score higher than 87 for the franchise was in '06, when Pedro Astacio threw a two-hit shutout against the Braves on Aug. 15 and had a game score of 88.

The Nationals improved to 7-2 on the season, tying the 1974, '79 and '81 Expos for the best nine-game start in franchise history.

Here and there
• Jackson was one of three pitchers on the day to go at least seven innings and allow no more than two hits. The others were the Dodgers' Ted Lilly and the Braves' Mike Minor. Through the first 125 games this season, there have been a total of 15 starts in which a pitcher went at least seven and allowed no more than two hits. In 2010, after the first 128 games of the year, there had been six such starts. Overall there were a total of 133 starts of at least seven innings and no more than two hits in '10 -- the most for any season between 1998-2011.

• The Mets, behind Jonathon Niese's 6 2/3 scoreless innings, went on to beat the Phillies, 5-0, and improve to 6-2 on the season. The Mets have a pair of team shutouts this season. The last time they had two through their first eight games was in 1998. The most team shutouts through the Mets' first eight contests came in '68, when the club had three.

• In the Yankees' 7-1 loss to the Angels, Derek Jeter went 2-for-5, giving him 911 career multihit games. Since 1918, those 911 tie Jeter with Yastrzemski for the ninth most.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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