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Padres' victory dumps Denver

Padre starter Brian Lawrence is not happy to see his manager heading toward him to take the ball away.
Padre starter Brian Lawrence is not happy to see his manager heading toward him to take the ball away.
David Zalubowski, Associated Press

DENVER — Khalil Greene hit two homers, including the game-winner in the ninth inning, to lift the San Diego Padres back over .500 with an 8-7 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

Greene took a 1-0 pitch off Rockies closer Brian Fuentes (2-4) to left-center to help the Padres win their third-straight close game and improve to 75-74. They moved six games ahead of idle San Francisco in the weak NL West and their magic number shrunk to eight.

Scott Linebrink (8-1) threw two scoreless innings to pick up the win. Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 36th straight save and 39th overall.

This was Greene's fourth career multihomer game. His first home run came in the second for a 2-0 lead. He also had a double in the seventh.

The loss officially knocked the Rockies out of playoff contention — an unusually late date to say it's over for a team with a 61-88 record.

But that's the nature of the NL West.

The Padres, who have hovered around .500 since late July, lost to Los Angeles on Sept. 11 to fall to 71-71 and hadn't made it over the break-even point since. Still, they haven't been out of first place since May 25. They have three more games against the Rockies before heading to Arizona for three.

They were pushed all night by Colorado, which is 25-21 since July 31, sixth best in the majors over that span, and 46-53 since June 1, which is tied with San Francisco for the best record in the NL West over that period.

Todd Helton of the Rockies had a triple and Matt Holliday singled him home in the seventh to tie the game at 7. Garrett Atkins and Cory Sullivan each had two singles. Starting pitcher Sunny Kim, trying to earn a spot in Colorado's 2006 rotation, allowed 11 hits, seven runs and three homers and blew leads of 3-2 and 6-5 before being lifted in the sixth.

PIRATES 7, ASTROS: At Pittsburgh, Ian Snell limited Houston to three singles over eight innings for his first major league victory, besting 340-game winner Roger Clemens in Pittsburgh's 7-0 win.

Freddy Sanchez had three extra-base hits, including a home run, against Clemens, as the Pirates won for the fifth time in six games and ended Houston's five-game winning streak.

Houston's lead over idle Philadelphia was cut to one game in the NL wild-card race.

Snell (1-2) was 0-3 with a 12.38 ERA in four career starts, but the right-hander didn't allow a runner past second base, struck out five and walked three. Jose Mesa pitched the ninth inning to complete the ninth shutout loss in an Astros game started by Clemens this season.

Clemens (12-8) allowed six runs, four earned, and a season-high 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Jack Wilson tripled with one out in the third and scored on Jason Bay's single. Sanchez hit his third homer in the fourth to make it 2-0. Sanchez doubled to start the sixth and scored on Tike Redman's single.