PITTSBURGH -- The Colorado Rockies are downright awful on the road this season, and worse still in extra innings. On a night they seemingly had every excuse to lose yet again, they somehow found a way to win.
Todd Helton hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the 10th inning off Jose Mesa after Pittsburgh had tied it in the ninth, and the Rockies came back after squandering a three-run lead to beat the Pirates 5-3 on Friday night.
Aaron Miles singled off Mesa (1-6) with one out ahead of Helton's drive into the right-field seats, which gave Colorado its first extra-inning victory in four attempts this season. David Cortes then pitched the 10th in his first career save opportunity, allowing singles by Jose Castillo and Humberto Cota to start the inning.
Helton went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and is 26-for-63 (.413) in July. His .381 career average against Pittsburgh is the second-best among major-league hitters, trailing only Jeff Cirillo's .396.
"A big hit off one of the better closers going," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "You don't get a bigger hit than that."
Pardon Hurdle's enthusiasm, given the Rockies' inability to win regularly away from Coors Field until they took two of three in Washington earlier this week. They dropped all but seven of their first 43 road games, the worst such start by an NL team since the 1963 New York Mets opened 7-44 on the road.
"Some things have happened lately on this trip -- one-run victories," Hurdle said, recalling the 5-4 and 3-2 wins in RFK Stadium. "Then to come back from a missed opportunity to close it out, that's big."
The Rockies reached double digits in road victories -- they're 10-38 -- long after most teams have won 20 times on the road. Only Cincinnati (11-31) among NL teams is close to being as bad away from home as Colorado.
Colorado hasn't won a series in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened in 2001 but, as evidenced by his average, Helton must like hitting there. The former Tennessee quarterback visited with his former coach, Johnny Majors, who is now on Pitt's athletic department staff.
"I enjoy playing here, I love the city and the ballpark," Helton said. "We've had some disappointments this year, especially on the road, so it was good to pull out a victory."
Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon wasn't happy with the pitch Helton hit: a slider from Mesa that stayed over the plate. McClendon had just told Cota, the catcher, to keep the ball down and away from Helton.
"That's not the pitch we wanted in that situation," McClendon said.
The Pirates were 3-47 when trailing after eight innings, but tied it against All-Star closer Brian Fuentes (2-3) in the ninth on Matt Lawton's RBI single. The Pirates loaded the bases with one out as Fuentes blew only his second save opportunity in his last 16, but the left-hander struck out rookie Brad Eldred and Rob Mackowiak in succession.
Eldred, making his major-league debut, singled up the middle in the first and went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts. He was promoted after hitting 28 homers in 75 games in the minors.
Eldred could have driven in the winning run if only he could have lifted the ball to the outfield or grounded it anywhere but directly to an infielder.
"It's definitely a situation you want to be in," he said. "I went up there hacking. It's one of those things."
Pittsburgh trailed 3-0 following Matt Holiday's solo homer in the fourth, his fifth, and Garrett Atkins' two-run double in the sixth against Kip Wells. But Jason Bay doubled in a run in the Pirates' sixth following five scoreless innings by Jamey Wright, and Mackowiak had a run-scoring grounder to make it 3-2.
Holliday went 2-for-2 against Wells and is 5-for-7 with two homers and three RBI against the right-hander. ... Wells struck out seven and walked one, but didn't get the decision after losing six of his last seven. ... The Pirates lost their sixth in seven games and ninth in 11. They are 2-8 since the All-Star break. ... SS Jack Wilson and 2B Castillo teamed to make an exceptional defensive play to retire Atkins in the ninth. Wilson went to his stomach to stop Atkins' ball up the middle, shuttled it to Castillo with his glove hand and Castillo threw to first for the out.