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Grace's homer, 500th double help bury Tigers

6/17/2002

PHOENIX (AP) -- Mark Grace celebrated a rare start with a home
run and a career milestone.

Grace, a 13-year starter at first base until he lost his
everyday job when Erubiel Durazo returned a month ago, drove in
three runs with a homer and his 500th career double Sunday as the
Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Detroit Tigers 11-2.

Grace is the third active player with 500 doubles. The others
are Rafael Palmeiro (505) and Rickey Henderson (507). Only 37 have
done it in baseball history.

"There's been a lot of fellas play this game over the century,
and that's a pretty select group. It's something I'm pretty proud
of,'' Grace said. "I've got the ball. I've got the scorecard. I've
got all those trinkets, so come on over to the house, we'll have a
party and I'll show them to you.''

Rick Helling scattered six hits in eight innings. Helling (7-5)
didn't allow a run after he gave up Craig Paquette's opposite-field
home run in the first inning and improved to 3-0 in his last four
starts.

Helling, who signed with Arizona as a free agent in the
offseason, won at home for the first time since April 20. He struck
out four and walked one.

"I made an adjustment in my mechanics a little more than a
month ago,'' Helling said. "I've felt gradually better and better
with that, and my command with my pitches has gotten better. The
way I pitch, I have to rely on my command.''

Helling even knocked in a run with an eighth-inning single. He
had gone 0-for-32 since his last hit on June 9, 1998. Helling
fouled a ball off his left knee before his hit, and with such a big
lead, manager Bob Brenly decided not to send the right-hander out
for the ninth inning.

Luis Gonzalez hit his 15th home run in Arizona's six-run eighth.

Grace's first homer since April 28 drove in two runs and put
Arizona ahead 3-1 in the second. His RBI double in the seventh gave
the Diamondbacks a 4-1 lead.

Grace also drove in the go-ahead run with a pinch-hit single in
the seventh inning of Arizona's 3-1 victory over Detroit on
Saturday night.

His parents were in the crowd Sunday.

"I told my mom and dad last night `Are you sitting down?' and
they said, `Yeah,' and I said, `I'm in the lineup tomorrow.' They
near had a coronary,'' Grace said.

He said that he reached his milestone by turning "triples into
doubles.'' It's the kind of humor Grace has shown as he accepted
his diminished role.

"He wishes he was getting more playing time, and certainly what
he's done over the course of his career he deserves our respect,
regardless of what his role is with this ball club,'' Brenly said.
"But the way he's handled the entire situation is a joy for me as
a manager.''

Damian Miller was 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and three
runs scored as the Diamondbacks took two of three from the Tigers
to improve to 6-3 in interleague play.

Mark Redman (3-7) allowed five runs on eight hits in seven
innings for the Tigers.

Greg Colbrunn led off the second with a double, then scored on
Miller's one-out double. That brought up Grace, who sent his bat
sailing toward the mound when he threw it to foul off a 1-2 pitch.
On the next pitch, Grace homered into the Detroit bullpen in right
for his fifth home run of the season.

"That's something that's always been important to me is being a
guy that doesn't strike out much,'' Grace said. "If you can throw
the bat and foul it off, the guy might make a bad pitch the next
pitch, and he did.''

Miller led off the seventh with a single, then scored from first
on Grace's double down the right-field line. The near-sellout crowd
gave Grace a standing ovation after it was announced that it was
No. 500.

Detroit loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, and Redman
got his first major league hit when his sacrifice bunt attempt
rolled between the pitcher and third baseman. But Paquette hit a
bouncer to shortstop Tony Womack, who stepped on second and threw
to first for an inning-ending double play.

"Like I keep saying for the last two months, it seems like we
had our chances to score some runs today but we didn't get the big
hit,'' Detroit manager Luis Pujols said.

Detroit's Robert Fick singled in the ninth to extend his hitting
streak to 18 games.

Game notes
Managers Bobby Cox of Atlanta and Tony La Russa of St.
Louis have turned down Arizona manager Bob Brenly's invitation to
coach in the All-Star Game. ... Helling leads the NL in home runs
allowed with 16. ... The Tigers fell to 8-24 on the road, the
second-worst record in the majors. ... Dmitri Young was out of the
Detroit lineup again because of an aggravated hernia. ... Grace
passed Rusty Staub for 37th on the career doubles list.