Helton tied the franchise record for home runs and Francis pitched another fine game at Coors Field on Tuesday night, lifting the Colorado Rockies to a 6-1 victory over the injury-riddled Los Angeles Dodgers.
Helton's two-run homer in the seventh off Odalis Perez (4-5) was the 258th of his career, tying Larry Walker for the team record. Helton finished with three hits and three RBI, and improved to 20-for-50 since June 21 -- a nice stint for the veteran who is hitting around 60 points below his career average this season.
"It's one of those things I'll probably look back on someday," Helton said of his milestone. "But in the middle of this season and with what we have to do, I don't know what it means."
The Rockies are still the worst team in the National League, but it's hardly the fault of Francis (8-5), who allowed one run and 11 hits over 7 1/3 innings and extended his scoreless streak to 14 1/3 straight innings before an RBI groundout in the eighth made it 6-1. He struck out five.
"This isn't unexpected. I showed last year I could pitch here," Francis said. "So far I'm getting along with this park. I don't have anything figured out. I've had a string of some good starts and things are going my way."
Francis moved into a tie for the major-league lead for victories by a rookie and improved to 8-1 in 10 career starts at Coors Field, including two he made late last season. He combined with Byung-Hyun Kim and Joe Kennedy to make it 17 1/3 straight innings, dating to Sunday, in which Colorado starters didn't allowed an earned run.
Colorado only won one of those three games, though, a result of an overworked bullpen that cost the Rockies in a 5-4 loss to St. Louis on Sunday, then again Monday in a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers.
"He knew what was at stake tonight. We wanted him to go deep into the game," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said of Francis. "That's just talk, though. He backed it up with action."
The Dodgers continued their limp into the All-Star break, losing for the 15th time in 21 games on a night in which they placed Cesar Izturis on the disabled list with a sore hamstring and learned J.D. Drew will need eight weeks to heal the wrist he broke Sunday when he got hit by a pitch.
Izturis was the 15th player Los Angeles has placed on the 15-day DL this season.
Making things worse, Jeff Kent left in the sixth inning with a strained left hamstring; the Dodgers said his status was "day-to-day."
"He would have to significantly improve from what I heard in the dugout for me to feel comfortable about putting him out there" on Wednesday, Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said.
The Dodgers didn't have trouble getting on base, but couldn't do much when they did.
Led by Oscar Robles' three hits, everyone in the starting lineup but Kent had a hit. But the Dodgers left 10 runners on base -- including three in the first inning -- and batted 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
"Anytime in this ballpark you score one run on 12 hits, and the lone run you get is on an infield groundout, you know that obviously you have put hits together," Tracy said. "Bases loaded, one out in the first inning, and we left two guys on. We stranded entirely too many runners tonight."
Many of their problems in this game can be traced to Francis, one of the few pitchers out there who appears to have mastered the art of pitching at Coors Field. Six of his eight wins this year have come at the hitter-friendly park, and he lowered his home ERA to 3.18 this season.
Before Helton's three RBI, struggling catcher J.D. Closser hit a three-run homer in the second, his fourth of the season, to put Colorado up 3-0.
Perez returned from a shoulder injury and in his first start since May 14, he allowed eight hits and four runs over five innings.
Colorado's Marcos Carvajal pitched the last 1 2/3 innings to wrap up a night in which neither team allowed a walk.
- After Monday night's loss, the Rockies fell to 28-53, tying them with the 1993 expansion club for the worst record at the halfway point.
- Chosen for the All-Star team, Izturis plans on attending the game even though he probably won't be healthy enough to play.
- Colorado 3B Garrett Atkins was named the NL Rookie of the Month.