DENVER (AP) -- Todd Zeile has quieted the criticism the Colorado
Rockies received when they acquired him in the offseason.
Zeile hit a three-run homer and Todd Helton went 3-for-4 and
scored two runs to lead the Rockies to a 6-5 victory Sunday and a
three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. After struggling last season with the Mets, Zeile has been a
valuable contributor as Jeff Cirillo's replacement in Colorado. ''I heard it and the skepticism was justified at the time
because I was 36 years old and I was coming off an in-season injury
and offseason surgery and I had a down year production wise,''
Zeile said. ''I felt confident the surgery and my desire was good
to make this all good for everyone involved." He's done just that, hitting .296 with 12 homers and 47 RBI. ''Look at his numbers,'' Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said.
''He has been all we could have asked for and he backs up Larry
Walker and Todd Helton.'' Zeile hit a three-run homer in the first inning as the Rockies
broke out to an early 5-0 lead and won their fourth consecutive game. ''The productivity I've been able to muster this year is largely
due to the surgery,'' said Zeile, who had surgery to remove a large
spur and a couple of bone chips from his elbow. ''I couldn't extend
the elbow at all last year now I can finally extend again.'' After the Devil Rays rallied to tie the game at 5, Mark Little
hit a run-scoring single off Joe Kennedy (5-6) in the seventh inning to
give Colorado the lead for good. Rick White (2-5) pitched a scoreless seventh for the victory. Jose
Jimenez pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save of the season and
60th in his Rockies' career, tying Bruce Ruffin for the franchise
record. ''This is a six-run park, one you have to score about that many
to win,'' Tampa Bay manager Hal McRae said. ''The key is not to
shut them down, but to pitch better than they do and we got a good
enough outing from Joe to do that.'' Jason Conti 2-for-3 with two RBI and Steve Cox had three hits
and an RBI for Tampa Bay, which lost its third in a row. Kennedy
pitched a nine-hitter for his third complete game of the season. He
had two hits and his first career RBI. The Rockies took a 3-0 lead in the first when Zeile's drive hit
off the top of the center-field fence and bounced over for a
three-run homer. Colorado added two runs in the third on a throwing
error by catcher John Flaherty and a run-scoring double by Terry Shumpert. Kennedy began Tampa Bay's comeback with a two-out, run-scoring single in
the fourth against Jason Jennings. The Devil Rays added three runs in the fifth. With runners on
first and second and no outs, Ben Grieve hit a grounder to Helton
at first base. Helton threw to shortstop Juan Uribe, but Uribe's
relay to first hit off Jennings' glove and went into right field
for a run-scoring error. Conti added a two-run single with two outs to make it 5-4. The Devil Rays took advantage of another error to tie the game
in the sixth inning. Brent Abernathy reached second on a throwing
error by Uribe and scored on Cox's single. Colorado went back ahead with an unearned run in the seventh.
Juan Pierre reached on a fielder's choice and went to third on
Kennedy's wild pickoff throw. Little then singled to give the
Rockies the lead. ''Pierre has 26 stolen bases or something like that, and I went
over when I saw him leading off,'' Kennedy said. ''I tried to hurry
up and I hurried a little too fast.'' Jennings allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings.
Tampa Bay outfielder Greg Vaughn will have his bruised right shoulder examined when the team returns home Monday. Vaughn injured the
shoulder when he crashed into the left-field wall attempting to
catch Larry Walker homer in the fifth inning of the game Saturday.
... Devil Rays outfielder Randy Winn leads the majors with 27 hits in
interleague games. ... Colorado outfielder Todd Hollandsworth had his
11-game hitting streak snapped. ... The Rockies used seven
right-handed batters against Kennedy. Colorado completed it fifth,
three-game series sweep, all at home.