<
>

Rockies' interleague woes continue

DENVER (AP) -- Given some playing time, John McDonald is starting
to feel like a baseball player again.

McDonald drove in two runs, and Bartolo Colon won for the fourth
time in five starts to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 5-4 victory
over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

McDonald had played just 18 games this season before second
baseman Ricky Gutierrez went out Thursday with a strained groin. In
three starts against Colorado, McDonald was 5-for-12 with two
doubles, two triples and four RBI.

"I've been able to feel little more comfortable being in the
last couple of days and I think it's helped me relax a little
bit,'' said McDonald, who had one career extra base hit before the
Colorado series.

"I'm starting to feel more like a baseball player rather than
someone who just gets a chance fill in sometimes. It's tough to
feel comfortable when you don't get that many at-bats.''

McDonald scored Cleveland's first run in the third inning after
tripling with one out, then put the Indians up 4-1 in the seventh
with a two-run double off Colorado starter Denny Neagle (4-4).

McDonald finished 2-for-4 and scored twice after being a homer
short of hitting for the cycle Friday night.

"This indicates that he can be a better hitter,'' said
Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel, whose team has won four of six
overall and six of nine on the road. "One of the things about
baseball is your durability and strength. Those are the things he
has to prove.''

Colorado has lost seven of nine interleague games this season
and 16 of 19 the past two years. The Rockies have lost 10 of 13
overall to fall three games under .500, and haven't won a series
since taking two of three from San Francisco May 31-June 2.

"We battled and got close and it came down to the last swing of
the bat,'' Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "We were still
hanging in there. We are getting better. We still have to get
better, but we are getting better.''

Colon (9-4) kept the Rockies off-balance with a fastball that
reached 98 mph and a hard-breaking slider. He allowed three runs --
two earned -- and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Colon also struck out eight for his sixth win in seven decisions
and had a bunt single in the seventh inning, the second hit of his
career.

"I've been working on bunting, but I was lucky to get the bunt
down,'' Colon said through an interpreter. "He left a pitch away
and I put it right on the line.''

Omar Vizquel followed McDonald's two-run double in the seventh
with a sacrifice fly that put the Indians up 5-1, but Colorado
answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Juan Pierre scored from second on an infield hit by Brent Butler
that made it 5-2, then Larry Walker cut the margin to one with a
two-run homer to left.

It was Walker's 14th homer of the season and his third in three
games. He was also Walker's 490th extra-base hit, a franchise
record.

Colorado had a runner on first with two outs in the ninth, but
Bob Wickman earned his 16th save in 17 chances by getting Butler to
fly out to right with Walker on deck.

"We were trying to get around Larry (in the ninth),'' Manuel
said. "We seemed to be pitching the ball where he likes it.''

Neagle was strong early, holding the Indians to three hits in
the first five innings, but gave up three straight hits and allowed
three runs in the seventh.

Neagle allowed five runs and eight hits in six innings. He is
0-2 with 15 earned runs allowed in his last three starts and 1-3
with a 4.53 ERA at Coors Field.

"It's getting frustrating because as a starting pitcher you
pride yourself on being able to keep your team in the ballgame and
I wasn't able to do that,'' Neagle said. "That's been a recurring
theme for me so far this year, and it's something I have to get
over, because I've been around too long.''

Cleveland's Jolbert Cabrera, who arrived an hour before the game
after being called up from Triple-A Buffalo, opened the scoring
with single in the third inning.

Gary Bennett tied it in the fourth with a single to right after
Todd Hollandsworth singled and reached second on an error by center
fielder Milton Bradley.

Jim Thome put the Indians up 2-1 in the sixth with a sacrifice
fly.

Game notes
Thome finished the series 1-for-11 with seven strikeouts.
... Colorado has not won an interleague series since July 17-18,
2000, against Oakland. The Rockies are 18-39 against the AL since
going 9-7 in 1997. ... Colon has pitched into the sixth inning in
14 of his 15 starts. ... Bradley had two errors after bobbling
singles.