Streaking Rockies hand Pirates sixth straight loss

Rockies 5, Pirates 3

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Colorado Rockies' latest win gave them even more confidence and left Pittsburgh starter Ian Snell very angry.

Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton each hit two-run homers and the Rockies won 5-3 on Wednesday to extend the Pirates' losing streak to six.

"That's the beautiful thing about winning, that each win breeds more confidence," Hawpe said, "so we will just keep going after it, keep going along and hopefully in a couple months things will look real good for us."

Jeff Francis (10-5) won his fifth decision in a row for Colorado, which swept the three-game series. He gave up six hits in seven innings, helped himself with an RBI single and left with a 5-2 lead.

Adam LaRoche and Freddy Sanchez homered for the Pirates, who have squandered any momentum gained by a 9-4 stretch before the All-Star break. The frustration was evident in the clubhouse afterward, when Snell accused the Rockies of stealing signs.

"I heard something from another player that somebody was giving signals, so hopefully I won't pitch in Colorado because I know who it is and I will get them," Snell said. "It just doesn't make any sense to give signals. It's all right, I'll get them next time.

"I'll just wait until next time and see if I pitch against them; if not, I'll let the guy know it's a crock of you-know-what," he said.

Pittsburgh plays a four-game series in Colorado from August 20-23.

It was not the first sign of frustration this series for the Pirates, who are almost assuredly headed for a 15th straight losing season. During Monday's game, television cameras caught shortstop Jack Wilson and pitching coach Jim Colburn in a shouting match an inning after Wilson was charged with an error on a ball hit to shallow left.

Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino said he did not think the Rockies were stealing signs. Hawpe also brushed off the talk.

"I don't even know how many guys we had at second base, so I don't think that was the deal," Hawpe said. "No. You look for fastball and adjust for everything else. Not even close."

While the Pirates fell to a season-low 14 games under .500, the mood was decidedly more upbeat in the other clubhouse as the Rockies moved to 48-46.

"When you win, you build confidence," Helton said. "And that's what we've been doing here lately."

Francis, 9-1 in his past 13 starts, did not walk a batter and struck out six. He singled in the third off Snell (7-7) to account for Colorado's first run.

"Results-wise, it's been good but a starting pitcher can't do that on his own," Francis said. "If you look at the run support I've had behind me, it's been unbelievable. The defense I've had behind me has been almost ridiculous. There's no way that I could take that upon myself."

Clint Hurdle won his 400th game with Rockies, becoming the second manager to reach that milestone. Don Baylor is the franchise leader with 440 wins.

Hurdle was thrilled with Francis' outing.

"He was able to go out there and compete after the first inning," Hurdle said. "He did some nice damage control there. He really tightened up his command. It was a good day of work for him."

Manny Corpas pitched the ninth for his third save.

Rajai Davis opened the game with the first of his two singles for Pittsburgh and Sanchez followed with a double. LaRoche had an RBI grounder, but Francis allowed only four more Pirates to reach base. Sanchez's homer, his fourth, came in the sixth.

Hawpe drove in Matt Holliday in the fourth with his team-leading 17th homer. Helton, who missed Tuesday night's game because of severe headaches, homered down the right-field line in the sixth. It was his ninth of the season.

Snell allowed five hits -- one on a misplayed ball by Davis in center field -- and struck out six in six innings.

Coming into the week, Colorado had lost all eight series it had played at PNC Park.

"I didn't know that," Helton said. "It's nice to come in here and win these games. We just have to keep it going, and keep the same approach for the next four games."

Game notes
Francis improved to 38-8 when the Rockies provide him with three or more runs of support. ... Pittsburgh outfielder Jason Bay, mired in an 19-for-132 slump since June 4, came into the game 7-for-9 in his career against Francis and went 1-for-3 against him. ... The Rockies took the lead in the all-time series between the teams, 63-62. ... The Rockies posted their fourth sweep this season.