DENVER — Todd Helton thrilled the sellout Coors Field crowd that came to embrace him Wednesday in his final home game with the Colorado Rockies.
The 40-year-old first baseman received a loud standing ovation each time he came to the plate, and Helton responded. He homered, hit a sacrifice fly and doubled off the left field wall, sliding headfirst into second base and giving the 48,775 fans a last gritty moment to appreciate him in person.
All that was lacking was a Rockies victory. The Boston Red Sox obliterated any hope of that by scoring 10 runs in the first five innings on their way to a 15-5 win.
Boston holds a two-game lead over the Oakland A’s in the race for the best record in the American League and home-field advantage in the postseason. The A’s lost 3-1 to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
The 10-run loss matched the Rockies’ largest margin of defeat this season.
Will Middlebrooks drove in a career-high seven runs, hitting a three-run homer in the fifth inning and a grand slam in the eighth. Shane Victorino hit a three-run homer in the fourth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 4-for-4 with three RBIs.
“It’s been a tough couple weeks. It’s been a tough year,” said Middlebrooks, who is batting .234. “But at this point in the year, man, it’s not about me. It’s about winning.”
Middlebrooks’ three-run homer was an opposite-field shot to right field off Rob Scahill in the fifth. The grand slam came on an 0-2 pitch when he lofted Roy Oswalt’s 64 mph curveball down the left field line.
“I was pretty surprised at that one,” Middlebrooks said. “I knew it was going to be close, because I hit it decent, even though it was a pretty ugly swing. But I thought it was going to hook foul, but somehow it stayed fair. He threw me a slow curveball. I was late on the heater, so I thought he was going to come in with the heater. Caught me off guard, and I was just trying to stay in the at-bat.”
Both starting pitchers labored. Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin (14-10) lasted four innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits. Boston’s Jake Peavy (12-5) gave up two runs in both the second and third innings, but just one run thereafter as he made it through six innings on 110 pitches.
“It was a grind, as it always is in this ballpark,” said Peavy, who is 4-4 with a 5.00 ERA in 10 starts at Coors Field. “The ball was carrying tonight. Hit the ball in the air, you had a chance.”
Peavy doubled with one out in the fourth, starting the rally that culminated with Victorino’s three-run homer off Chacin.
“When the pitcher (gets a hit), it breaks your spirit as the opposing pitcher, because you’re supposed to get that guy out,” Peavy said. “So being able to contribute that way was fun, brought me back to a few years back (with the San Diego Padres) when I enjoyed doing that a lot.
Former Rockies reliever Franklin Morales came on to face Helton in the seventh. Before throwing a pitch, Morales picked Michael Cuddyer off first base and then struck out Helton with a 95 mph fastball.
Helton homered with one out in the second, his 15th homer of the season and the 369th of his career. That tied him with Ralph Kiner for 74th on the all-time list, one behind Gil Hodges.
“With all that stuff going on, you never know how you’re going to do,” Helton said. “You want to do good. Obviously, they’re going cheer for you, regardless of how you do. Once the game starts, I try to go out and do some damage, and it was good to go out and get a couple hits.”
After the game, the Rockies walked around the perimeter of Coors Field, an annual tradition after their final home game. Several members of the Red Sox stayed in their dugout to shake hands with Helton as he walked by.
“They really didn’t have to do that,” Helton said. “That’s basically the ultimate sign of respect, when they would stand out there. They’re going to the playoffs and flying tonight to another city (Baltimore). I don’t take that lightly that they would stay out there and spend their time to shake my hand.”
NOTES: Rockies C Yorvit Torrealba left the game in the sixth inning with a right thumb contusion. X-rays were negative, and he was listed day-to-day. … Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup after missing 16 games with a compression fracture in his right foot. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and played three innings in the field. … With no designated hitter, Boston’s David Ortiz started at first base for the second straight game and sixth time this season. Farrell said regular 1B Mike Napoli, who last played Friday and has been bothered by plantar fasciitis for much of the second half of the season, might be back in the lineup Friday at Baltimore. … Rockies CF Charlie Blackmon extended his career-high hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the third. … Helton took the lineup card to home plate. The Rockies presented Helton, who has a ranch in the Denver area, with a horse during a pregame ceremony.