Rockies 5, Blue Jays 1

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DENVER (AP) – Jeff Francis took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and Brad Hawpe tripled home two runs to spoil Ty Taubenheim’s major league debut and lead the Colorado Rockies past the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 Saturday night.

Francis (3-3) gave up one earned run and four hits in six-plus innings. He benefited from a defense that produced four spectacular run-saving plays.

Nobody came close to getting a hit off Francis until Aaron Hill led off the sixth with a clean blooper to left-center. The Blue Jays mustered three more hits in the inning but only managed one run as the Rockies threw out two runners at the plate to preserve a 3-1 lead.

Francis was done after walking the first two batters he faced in the seventh, but his defense again saved him.

Shea Hillenbrand hit a sharp grounder to third off reliever David Cortes but Garrett Atkins made a diving stop and threw out the runner at second. Hillenbrand was running all the way when Bengie Molina lined out to a leaping Clint Barmes at shortstop to start an inning-ending double play.

Taubenheim (0-1) displayed an equal knack for getting into and out of trouble in his much-anticipated major league debut. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound right-hander allowed a home run to the second batter he faced, walked his counterpart in the second and plunked two batters in the third.

All the Rockies had to show for it was one run, on Atkins’ solo homer. Cory Sullivan was induced into a weak groundball for out No. 3 after Francis drew a walk in the second and Taubenheim stranded the bases full in the third when his sharp slider froze Jamey Carroll for the third strike.

The Rockies finally got to Taubenheim in the fifth when Hawpe’s two-run triple made it 3-0.

Taubenheim called it a night after allowing three earned runs and five hits in five innings. He walked three and plunked two more, an uncharacteristically wild night for a pitcher who hadn’t walked more than two batters in any of his eight starts at Triple-A Syracuse, where he had a sparkling 1.26 ERA.

After Hill broke up the no-hitter, John McDonald singled to right and Eric Hinske, pinch hitting for Taubenheim, doubled down the right-field line, scoring Hill. McDonald, however was thrown out by Barmes, who caught Hawpe’s throw from right, spun and nailed the runner in a close play at the plate.

Then, it was Holliday’s turn. He fielded a single to left by Alex Rios and one-hopped a strike to catcher Danny Ardoin to get Hinske for the third out.

Carroll had an RBI double and Barmes added a sacrifice fly as the Rockies made it 5-1 in the seventh.

Notes: Atkins homered in the first inning for the second straight night. … At Syracuse, Taubenheim did not give up more than one earned run in seven of his eight starts – and allowed just two earned runs in the other start. … Francis singled in the sixth, making him 2-for-19.

AP-ES-05-20-06 2243EDT

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