The New York Yankees couldn't wait to get back to Coors Field after scoring a record 41 times on their first trip to the Colorado Rockies' ballpark five years ago.
This time, they couldn't get out of town fast enough.
"I don't want to see them again, how's that?" manager Joe Torre said yesterday after the Rockies denied Roger Clemens his 350th win and completed a three-game sweep of the suddenly stumbling Yankees with a 4-3 victory.
The humidor has taken full effect and so has Colorado's retooled pitching staff since the Yankees' last visit to the ballpark on Blake Street, where they outscored the Rockies, 41-29, in a three-game slugfest in 2002, setting a stadium record for runs scored by an opponent in a three-game series. This time, the Rockies outscored New York, 13-5.
The Yankees had won 14 of 17 coming into town and never saw this thumping coming even though the Rockies are playing well -- a major league-best 20-7 since May 22 and an impressive 9-3 against the AL East.
"It's something we certainly didn't expect," Torre said. " Not that we take anybody for granted because that's not the way you play this game. [But] it's not the way we've been playing over the last few weeks."
While the Yankees were making base-running blunders, leaving fat pitches out over the plate and going 1 for 18 with runners in scoring position over the three games, the Rockies were hitting their spots and getting all the timely hits.
"It all starts with the pitching," said Rockies slugger Matt Holliday, who leads the majors with 107 hits. "The Yankees are a great offensive team . . . for [our pitchers] to give up five runs [in the series] is great."
Holliday's RBI single with one out in the fifth broke a 2-2 tie and chased the Rocket, who failed to hold a 2-0 lead and allowed four earned runs and seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
Rodrigo Lopez (4-0) survived Hideki Matsui's 428-foot, two-run home run into center field and lasted 5 2/3 innings against the Yankees, who fell 10 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East.
Clemens (1-2) was trying to become the first major leaguer to win 350 games since Warren Spahn did it for Milwaukee Sept. 29, 1963, when Torre was the Braves' catcher and Clemens had just celebrated his first birthday.
This was Clemens's third start since making three minor league tuneups, and he lost for the second straight time.
Orioles 6, Padres 3 -- Alberto Castillo hit his first home run in more than two years, leading Erik Bedard (5-4) and visiting Baltimore to the win.
The Orioles took two of three from the NL West-leading Padres. The wins came after a nine-game losing streak by Baltimore, which fired manager Sam Perlozzo Monday and replaced him with Dave Trembley on an interim basis.
Castillo's solo homer, off David Wells (3-5), was literally a money shot. Shortly before his at-bat in the sixth inning, a few dozen dollar bills came wafting from high in the seats, with several landing in the outfield and foul territory, and some reaching the Orioles dugout.
Padres spokesman George Stieren said the bills were thrown by a fan in a suite on the third base side of the downtown ballpark. The fan was ejected.
Dodgers 8, Blue Jays 4 -- Jeff Kent hit a two-run home run and Russell Martin doubled to spark a six-run rally in the eighth inning for visiting Los Angeles.
Rangers 6, Cubs 5 -- Pinch hitters Kenny Lofton and Frank Catalanotto singled off the gloves of diving Chicago outfielders in the bottom of the ninth inning, producing the winning run for Texas.
Mariners 3, Pirates 0 -- Felix Hernandez allowed six hits in eight innings in his best start since he returned from a forearm injury and host Seattle beat Pittsburgh, shutting the Pirates out for the second straight game.