Helton breaks slump and Rockies losing streak

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The NL batting champion is starting to find his stroke.

Todd Helton burst out of an early-season slump, playing a major role in a pair of rallies as the Colorado Rockies ended a five-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.

Larry Walker tied the score with a two-run homer, and Helton connected two pitches later as the Rockies broke up Dustin Hermanson's no-hit bid in the seventh inning. Helton also singled in the Rockies' three-run, ninth-inning rally capped by pinch-hitter Mark Little's two-run single.

"You go through spells when you just don't feel like you're ever going to get another hit, regardless of who you are," Rockies manager Buddy Bell said. "All you have to do is be patient and keep working and really trust yourself to know it's going to turn around at some point."

Helton, the NL batting champion with a .372 average last year, was 0-for-9 in the series and hitting just .188 this season before his homer.

"I just closed my eyes and I swung, and I hit it," Helton said. "It's an ongoing process, I'll say that."

The Rockies won for the first time since their season-opening, three-game sweep over St. Louis in Colorado even though the Cardinals ended a 27-inning scoreless slump against Mike Hampton. J.D. Drew and rookie Albert Pujols homered off Hampton, who hasn't won in two starts since beating the Cardinals in the opener on April 2.

Hampton gave up four runs and eight hits in seven innings. His ERA jumped to 4.43.

Hampton had held St. Louis scoreless since Sept. 2, 1999. He blanked the Cardinals for 16 innings in the NL Championship Series for the Mets and 8 1-3 more on opening day.

"I don't put much stock into it and I don't think they do, either," Hampton said. "It went on for a while, I understand, but I guess every game's new and you wipe the slate clean."

Little, 2-for-5 as a pinch hitter, is from nearby Edwardsville, Ill., and spent time in the Cardinals' organization. He left more than 20 passes for family and friends each game of the series.

Hermanson faced the minimum until giving up a walk one batter before Walker's one-out, two-run homer in the seventh.

"The only thing going through my mind was just keeping us ahead," Hermanson said. "I was surprised to find out it was a no-hitter.

"These hitters are too good to be thinking no-hitter."

The Cardinals regained the lead on Jim Edmonds' two-run single in the bottom of the seventh. Colorado tied it in the ninth on Mike Timlin's wild pitch.

Steve Kline (0-1), appearing for the sixth straight game and seventh time in nine games, didn't get a batter out and allowed three runs. Coming in, he hadn't allowed a run in seven innings.

John Wasdin (1-0) got two outs in the eighth and Jose Jimenez finished for his second save.

Edmonds didn't start for the second straight game because of tightness in his groin, but entered as a defensive substitute in the seventh.

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