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Wearing Kile's number on cap, Hampton dazzles

6/25/2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Mike Hampton was somehow able to focus enough
on pitching when good friend Darryl Kile's death was still on his
mind.

An emotionally charged Hampton won for the first time in four
starts and hit his second home run of the season as the Colorado
Rockies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1 Monday night for their
fifth straight victory.

Pitching for the first time since the death of his former
Houston teammate, Hampton wore Kile's No. 57 on his cap and his
heart on his sleeve.

"I was trying to think about pitching as much as I could. Of
course, I held D.K. in my thoughts and prayers and in my heart, and
I always will,'' Hampton said. "Tonight I tried to get back to
business and get back to playing a game that I love and he loved.''

Hampton said he will go to St. Louis on Wednesday to attend a
memorial service for Kile.

"Before every game I pitch, I say a prayer. And tonight I said
a prayer for his family, for Flynn and the kids for them to be
strong and to get through this somehow. It's going to take
awhile.''

Hampton allowed one run and five hits over six innings and was
aided by three double plays. The two-time All-Star won for just the
second time in nine road decisions and lowered his ERA from 7.07 to
6.70.

"I've been really working on my focus and concentration my last
few starts and taking one pitch at a time,'' said Hampton, who
weathered rumors about possible being demoted to the bullpen. "Now
I'm ready to get on a roll and move forward.''

Manager Clint Hurdle pulled Hampton after six innings and just
74 pitches.

"I wanted to make sure there was nothing that was even a crack
in the door for something negative to happen,'' Hampton said.
"Obviously, I'm sure he felt a tremendous desire to take the ball
out there and do well tonight.''

After giving up Shawn Green's two-out homer in the first,
Hampton (4-8) homered on a 3-1 fastball from Kazuhisa Ishii (11-3)
to lead off the second and give Colorado a 3-1 lead. It was
Hampton's ninth career homer -- the most among active pitchers -- and
his 50th RBI.

Hampton's first seven homers came last season, when he tied the
NL home run record for pitchers that was shared by former Dodgers
Don Newcombe and Don Drysdale.

"In the meeting we talked about Hampton as a hitter, so I knew
about that,'' Ishii said through an interpreter.

The victory was Hampton's first against Los Angeles in five
decisions since signing a $121 million, eight-year contract with
the Rockies before last season. Two years earlier, he led the
majors with a career-high 22 victories for Houston.

"Hampton threw a great game,'' Green said. "He's gotten off to
a slow start this season, but he's still a great pitcher. We didn't
get anything going and didn't take advantage of any
opportunities.''

Justin Speier and Todd Jones each pitched a perfect inning and
Jose Jimenez got three outs for his 20th save. It was his 61st with
the Rockies, breaking Bruce Ruffin's club record.

"It means a lot because I came here as a starter and now I'm a
closer,'' said Jimenez, who three years ago Tuesday pitched a
no-hitter for St. Louis against Arizona. "It doesn't matter what
day it happened. I'm just very happy that I have my own record now,
and I hope I can keep it going.''

The Dodgers' loss snapped their five-game winning streak and
reduced their NL West lead to a half-game over idle Arizona.

A throwing error by shortstop Cesar Izturis resulted in two
unearned runs in the first inning by the Rockies, who got RBI
singles by Todd Zeile and Juan Uribe.

Ishii allowed three runs -- one earned -- seven hits and four
walks in seven innings. The left-hander, who won 10 of his first 11
decisions, completed the seventh inning for the first time in seven
starts.

Juan Pierre had three hits for the Rockies, including an RBI
single in the eighth off Guillermo Mota.

One pitch before Green's homer, Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca
limped out a double-play grounder to shortstop. He left the game in
the fifth inning with a mild left groin strain.

Game notes
Jimenez was one of seven players involved in the trade that
sent Kile from Colorado to St. Louis in November 1999. ... Hampton
is one of four active pitchers with at least 100 career hits. He
has 121, including 12 this season. His other homer this year came
on May 11 against Al Leiter in a 4-3 loss at New York. ... Green,
who has 20 homers in his last 31 games, is 13-for-20 lifetime
against Hampton with three homers and 11 RBIs. ... Colorado RF
Larry Walker, who had five homers and 16 RBIs during Colorado's
nine-game homestand, missed his second straight game because of a
strained right elbow that has bothered him since April.