DENVER (AP) - It's the age-old excuse: the sun got in my eyes. Only this time, it was the truth.
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton said he's inquired about putting up some sort of retractable shield on the northwestern facade of Coors Field to block the sun.
Only problem there is that such a contraption would block the majestic view of the mountains, too.
Helton was burned Monday night, losing third baseman Ty Wigginton's throw on pitcher Derek Lowe's routine ground ball with the bases full and two outs in the second inning. Two runs scored as the ball sailed past Helton into foul territory, igniting Atlanta's 7-4 win at Coors Field.
Helton said he should have reminded Wigginton about the setting sun that inning so that he could have gone to another base for the force out instead.
``It's probably the one time I didn't say anything to him and it happened,' Helton said. ``It worked out for the worse.'
Jason Hammel (5-9) was walking off the mound toward the dugout when Lowe grounded weakly to Wigginton.
``Yeah, I got the ground ball that I wanted,' Hammel said. ``You can't count on the sun being in the way, though. That's just one of those freak things of baseball. It's nobody's fault. Ty made a good throw and Todd was on the bag, but you can't look into the sun and expect to see anything.
``It's been that kind of way for a while now.'
Helton said there's no other ballpark that gives him fits as Coors Field does this time of year.
``It's one of those things that's a worse-case scenario, a nightmare: bases loaded, pitcher's hitting,' he said. ``But I couldn't see it. I put my glove up where I thought the ball was going to go. It's just a bad break.'
Once on first, Lowe saw exactly what Helton was talking about.
``When I was at first base, I mean, you can't see,' Lowe said. ``He was kind of mad at the guy that threw it. He was mad that he threw it to first base. When you play here all the time you probably know early on don't throw it to first base (at that time). It's definitely a stadium fault.
``When we were over there, we were talking about it, you can't see. Even if the pitcher threw over there, you can't see. And it was a huge part of the game. You take those two runs away and who knows what would have happened?'
Lowe joked that he should have been given a base hit and two RBIs. After all, he argued, if an outfielder loses the ball in the sun and it drops to the grass, that's not an error.
Lowe (6-7) gave up four runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 solid innings on a 92-degree night, finally fading in the seventh when he left with a 7-2 lead and watched his bullpen allow two more runs.
Rookie Craig Kimbrel recorded his 16th straight scoreless appearance, striking out the side in the ninth for his 29th save in 34 chances.
Hammel (5-9) allowed six runs, four earned, and eight hits over five innings.
One night after his first career game-winning hit, a single that lifted Atlanta past Washington 9-8, Freddie Freeman delivered again for the Braves, driving a fastball in the third inning into the rock pile in center for a two-run homer, the rookie's 14th. He finished with three hits and three RBIs.
``He must be eating from a different box of Wheaties right now,' Hammel said. ``He's
Eric Hinske also homered for Atlanta, hitting a solo shot, his ninth, one out after Freeman went deep.
The Rockies were limited to Helton's RBI single until the seventh, when Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki hit run-scoring bloop singles and Helton added a sacrifice fly.
Notes: Hammel hasn't won consecutive starts since April. ... Seth Smith hit his fifth triple of the season. ... C Chris Iannetta is 8 for 16 over his past five starts at home.
Arnie Stapleton can be reached at http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
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