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Lawrence, Bennett provide unlikely punch

4/12/2003

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The San Diego Padres made the most of some
unlikely slugging from pitcher Brian Lawrence and catcher Gary Bennett.

Lawrence threw six solid innings and hit his first career homer, and the light-hitting Bennett drove in three runs to send San Diego to a 6-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.

Lawrence gave the Padres a lift at the plate, and Bennett was
still excited about the birth of his son on Thursday.

"I'm on an adrenaline rush,'' said Bennett, whose wife, Ruby,
gave birth to Gavin in Chicago on an off day for the Padres.

Bennett, who left for the Windy City after San Diego's game
Wednesday in San Francisco, did not fly back until Friday.

"(The birth) was a little tough to top,'' Bennett said. "But
it turned out to be a pretty good day.''

Bennett, a career .259 hitter, came in with only nine lifetime
homers and 68 RBI. He finished 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and
a sacrifice fly.

"Catching is his primary job,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "Hitting is icing on the cake. It's nice to have the icing on the cake, it sure tastes better.''

Lawrence (2-0) allowed two runs on five hits. The right-hander
struck out eight, including five in a row during one stretch.

But it was his solo shot off Darren Oliver on an 0-2 fastball
that proved to be stunning. The home run, which came in Lawrence's
96th career at-bat, put San Diego up 4-2 in the fourth inning.

"I was just trying to make contact,'' Lawrence said. "I knew
it had a chance, but there were some doubts.''

Brandon Villafuerte got five outs for his second save.

Todd Helton drove in both runs against Lawrence with a sacrifice
fly and a leadoff homer in the fourth inning, his fourth of the
season. Helton leads the NL with 15 RBI.

Oliver (0-1) gave up six runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings.
He hurt himself with three consecutive walks in the first inning,
forcing in two runs.

"The first inning was pretty much the game right there,'' Oliver said. "Basically, I couldn't throw down the middle.''

Lawrence, who won his second straight decision, pitched eight
innings in his last start, a 3-0 win over Los Angeles on Saturday.

"I was a little bit off in the first inning,'' Lawrence said.
"After the first, I started hitting my sliders.''

Helton got the Rockies off to a quick start with a sacrifice fly
in the first.

The Padres quickly erased the lead in the bottom half, taking
advantage of Oliver's wildness.

One-out singles by Mark Kotsay and Rondell White were followed
by consecutive walks to Brian Buchanan, Xavier Nady and Lou Merloni
to bring in two runs. Bennett hit a sacrifice fly for a 3-1 lead.

Helton homered off Lawrence, a 423-foot shot to center to cut
the San Diego lead to 3-2.

After Lawrence homered in the fourth, Bennett hit a two-run
double in the fifth to increase the lead to 6-2.

Colorado scored twice in the eighth to cut it to 6-4.

After Jesse Orosco walked Larry Walker to start the inning,
Luther Hackman issued back-to-back walks to load the bases with no
outs. With one out, Chris Stynes lined a two-run single to center,
but Villafuerte came on and escaped further damage.

Game notes
Lawrence came in with a career batting average of .106. ...
Walker reached base four times on two walks, a single and a hit by
pitch. ... A win would have enabled the Rockies to equal the best
10-game start in their 11-year history.