Author`s name Alex Naumov

Rockies pave their way into playoffs

The Colorado Rockies rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 13th to beat the San Diego Padres 9-8 and advance in to the National League Division Series.

Matt Holliday tripled in the tying run and Jamey Carroll hit a sacrifice fly against Trevor Hoffman as the Rockies battle back to eliminate San Diego in the a wild-card tiebreaker game.

"Incredible," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "Our guys weren't ready to close the book. The book is still open."

After Scott Hairston delivered a two-run homer off Jorge Julio in the top half of the frame to give San Diego an 8-6 lead, Kaz Matsui and Troy Tulowitzki led off the bottom half with consecutive doubles before Holliday blasted an offering from Hoffman (4-5) deep off the right field wall, scoring Tulowitzki with the tying run.

Todd Helton was intentionally walked and then Carroll lined the first pitch to right field. Holliday tagged up and just beat the throw home from Brian Giles, although replays indicated that the umpire likely missed the call and Holliday did not touch the plate.

Asked if he touched the plate, a bloodied Holliday said, "I don't know. He hit me pretty good. My chin hit the ground. I assume I did."

The Rockies mobbed Holliday at home plate, but the all-star slugger was injured from his collision with Padres catcher Michael Barrett. He stayed on the ground for a few moments after landing on his face and catching his hand in Barrett's cleats, the AFP reports.

A controversial call in the seventh deprived the Rockies of the separation that could have spared them extra innings, as a line drive by Garrett Atkins either hit the top of the left-field fence or barely cleared it. Wherever it hit, it flew back toward center field and Atkins, after a meeting among the umpires, had to settle for a double. Atkins said he thought the ball had gone out.

The Rockies improved their club-record win total to 90 games, punctuating their first winning season in seven years. Largely responsible for the last couple of those losing seasons was a commitment to youth, similar to what the Dodgers are doing now.

Of the Rockies' eight starting position players Monday, six were drafted by the organization: Todd Helton (1995), Holliday (1998), Garrett Atkins (2000), Brad Hawpe (2000), Ryan Spilborghs (2002) and Tulowitzki (2005). Developing them to be everyday big leaguers proved to be a trying process, the AP reports.

"We took a look at a couple of other models of the teams that have had success in markets that we felt were similar, Minnesota and Oakland and, how they went about it," Manager Clint Hurdle said. "We held fast and we stayed the course through some challenging times. This is not an overnight success."

Losing when undertaking such a transition is unavoidable, Hurdle said, "unless you get extremely lucky. . . . Everybody wants it now. We understand that. But there's a pace that's going to play itself out and that's the pace of the players' development. We need to make sure that we give them the freedom to play and we're willing to have that patience to play itself out."

Source: agencies