Helton homers as Rockies snap five-game losing skid

DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez can't tell whether he's lucky or cursed -- or if his left palm is healed or not.

Gonzalez and Todd Helton both homered into the smoky sky as the Colorado Rockies snapped a five-game losing streak with an 8-3 win over the New York Mets on Tuesday night in a game that featured a wild first inning with Gonzalez right in the middle of it.

The NL wild-card leaders moved a game ahead of San Francisco, which lost 1-0 at Philadelphia, as they started a 10-game homestand against losing teams.

Gonzalez's left palm isn't swollen anymore but it's still purple after he jammed it last week. And it still has the stitches he needed to close a gash from a steak knife a few days earlier.

But he said he'll put up with the pain for the playoff push.

Gonzalez didn't want to dive again, however, as he did last week when he re-injured the hand. So when Luis Castillo hit a sinking liner to center field in the first inning, Gonzalez let it drop in front of him -- then threw the lead runner out at second base.

Angel Pagan, who led off with a single, was running on the pitch and didn't see Castillo's one-hopper to Gonzalez. He mistakenly thought Gonzalez caught the ball on the fly, and started sprinting back to first.

Gonzalez threw him out, which denied Castillo a single and rendered the play a fielder's choice.

"That kind of helped bail us out a little bit," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "We'd have had a much deeper hole to climb out of."

The Mets ended up with two runs that inning, a lead that was erased in the second when Gonzalez hit a two-run homer that sliced through the haze that meteorologists blamed on the California wildfires more than 800 miles away and landed in the second deck in right field for a 3-2 Colorado lead.

"He's back and he's the Carlos Gonzalez that we had before he hurt his hand," Tracy said.

It helped that Pagan goofed up.

"He lost sight of the ball and didn't pick up the coaches," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "Just his brain locked up on him. Had a good jump on it, stolen base, Luis puts the ball in play. It could have been a really potential big inning for us."

Gonzalez's luck didn't last long.

David Wright, fresh off the disabled list, put runners at the corners with a single and Jeff Francoeur lined out to Gonzalez, whose throw to the plate appeared to have Castillo nailed by several steps before hitting the pitching rubber and sailing over the head of catcher Yorvit Torrealba, allowing Castillo to score easily on the sacrifice fly.

"That was a great throw. I think I had a chance to get the guy out at home plate and save a run," Gonzalez said. "That was really hard for me when the ball hit the mound."

Gonzalez was charged with an error because Wright advanced to second base on the wild hop, and he came around to score on a double by Fernando Tatis, making it 2-0.

"Oh, it was a crazy inning because they got four hits and they could have not scored any runs but for the throw," Gonzalez said. "But there's nothing you can do about that. That's baseball."

The Rockies got a run back in the bottom half when Garrett Atkins drew a bases-loaded walk off right-hander Mike Pelfrey (9-10), who lasted just four innings.

"I thought that was a really big at-bat," Helton said. "It made us kind of relax a little and say, 'You know what, we can score some runs off this guy."

Jorge De La Rosa (13-9) settled down from his shaky start, allowing just one unearned run and four hits in six innings, and the Rockies chased Pelfrey early, tagging him for seven runs, six earned, on six hits in four innings, including Helton's 14th homer.

His three-run shot in the fourth made it 7-2.

Wright was activated from the 15-day disabled list and played his first game for the Mets since getting hit in the head by a pitch from San Francisco's Matt Cain on Aug. 15. Wright went 1 for 3.

"I felt surprisingly good considering I missed the last couple of weeks," Wright said.

Wearing his bulky, new protective batting helmet, Wright helped New York take a 2-0 lead in the wild first inning when he singled and scored.

"Obviously, I don't care what I look like," said Wright, razzed by fans and players alike. "If it provides more safety I'm all for that. Maybe I've got an odd-shaped head."

Game notes
Torrealba extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games. ... Jason Giambi made his Rockies -- and NL -- debut in the seventh when he batted for the pitcher with the bases loaded and drew a four-pitch walk from Sean Green.