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Neagle gets first win in nearly a month

5/30/2002

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A minor league coach once told Greg Norton to
think less about his average and more about getting big hits off
the bench.

Getting a rare start on Thursday, Norton put that piece of
advice to work when he hit a grand slam in the first inning that
carried the Colorado Rockies to a 4-2 win over the San Diego
Padres.

Denny Neagle won for the first time in five starts and the
Rockies, who are 8-2 in a stretch of 16 games against NL West
rivals, salvaged a split of the four-game series.

Norton has been used mostly as a pinch-hitter this year, and his
eight RBI in that role lead the majors.

He was hitting just .196 coming into Thursday, when he made just
his eighth start of the season at third base, and his first since
May 15. He homered into the right field seats on the first pitch he
saw from Bobby Jones, a 68-mph hanging curveball with one out in
the first.

''Of course, everybody would like to have a higher average, but
I'm just trying to give the team a cushion or try to get them back
in the game with one swing,'' Norton said. ''And fortunately
enough, a couple of times this year I've been able to do that.
That's all I'm really trying to do, is to help.''

It was the second slam of the season and career for Norton, who
had a pinch-hit slam against Florida on May 13.

''That was a big swing, and we don't win if he didn't hit
that,'' manager Clint Hurdle said.

Jones' curveball caught the middle of the plate.

''The pitch he hit out wasn't that bad of a pitch,'' said Jones,
who was activated from the disabled list before the game. ''It was
the pitch I wanted to throw.''

Neagle (4-2) allowed two hits and one run in five innings, both
singles by No. 8 hitter D'Angelo Jimenez, who also doubled in the
ninth. Neagle struck out six and walked five.

Neagle lowered his ERA in 12 career games in San Diego to 0.74.
He's 5-1 against the Padres in San Diego and 7-3 overall.

After Colorado reliever Justin Speier threw two perfect innings,
Kent Mercker loaded the bases in the eighth on a double by Mark
Kotsay, a single by Deivi Cruz and a walk to Ryan Klesko.

Todd Jones came on and allowed Ron Gant's sacrifice fly, then
retired the side on a fly ball and strikeout.

''Greg Norton getting the early grand slam was great, but Jones
coming in and slamming the door in that situation was the
difference in the ballgame,'' Neagle said.

Jose Jimenez pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 14 chances,
allowing an unearned run on shortstop Juan Uribe's error.

Bobby Jones (3-3), who had been on the DL since May 13 with a
strained muscle in his lower back, had a rough start. He allowed
the first five batters to reach, although Juan Pierre was caught
stealing after hitting a leadoff single.

Jones ended up going seven innings, allowing four runs and seven
hits, striking out four and walking two.

''The first inning he pitched like he was out of rhythm,''
manager Bruce Bochy said. ''Then he got in a good groove.
Unfortunately, the damage was done.''

The Padres were without third baseman Phil Nevin, who was
diagnosed with a broken left arm and will miss about six weeks. He
was hurt diving for a grounder Wednesday night.

Game notes
The Padres put struggling rookie 3B Sean Burroughs
(sprained right shoulder) and RHP Brian Tollberg (sprained right
elbow) on the DL. Tollberg left Wednesday night's win over the
Rockies. Burroughs has been bothered by the sore shoulder since
mid-April. He originally hurt the shoulder in September while
playing for Triple-A Portland. Burroughs, who was hitting just
.221, was benched Monday after Nevin came off the DL. ... The
Padres purchased the contract of INF Julius Matos from Triple-A
Portland. ... Neagle's 2.59 ERA against San Diego is his lowest
against any NL opponent.