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HOME RUNS COME IN THREES FOR HELTON

Todd Helton is breaking out of the longest homerless streak of his major-league career in a big way.

Helton had his second three-homer game in the major leagues and had a career-high six RBIs Thursday to lead the Colorado Rockies to their fifth straight win, 12-5 over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Before connecting last Friday, Helton had been homerless in 89 at-bats since April 25.

"It just happens sometimes," he said. "You go through a streak where you're not driving the ball well and you do a little work, and the next thing you know you start reaping the rewards."

Helton hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Odalis Perez (4-3), a solo shot in the fourth against Perez and another two-run homer in the eighth off Eric Gagne. Helton, who has 10 homers this season, also singled in a run in the third.

Helton, who homered three times in Coors Field on May 1, 2000, had his 22nd multi-homer game, his first this season. He credited hitting coach Duane Espy for working on his swing.

"Hitting for me is definitely a feel thing," Helton said. "If you feel good, if you feel confident up at the plate, you have about a 100 percent better chance of doing something good."

Trachsel outduels Millwood

PHILADELPHIA -- Steve Trachsel pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings, outdueling Kevin Millwood in the New York Mets' 5-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Cliff Floyd had a two-run double and Rey Sanchez, Jeromy Burnitz and Tony Clark each had RBI doubles for the Mets, who have won four of six against Philadelphia in two weeks.

Trachsel (4-2) allowed five hits, struck out five and walked three to win his fourth consecutive start, all on the road.

Millwood (7-2) gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings. He hadn't lost since April 17, winning his last five decisions.

Before the game, Tug McGraw, a former star reliever with the Phillies and Mets, visited both clubhouses and talked about his battle with brain cancer. It was McGraw's first public appearance since having surgery in March.

"I'm not fearful. I have confidence," said the 58-year-old McGraw. "The prognosis is very good."

Around the horn

Jeff Kent started a rally in the eighth inning with a double and hit a two-run double in the ninth as the Astros beat the Cardinals, 7-4, after blowing a three-run lead. . . . Brian Lawrence took a three-hit shutout into the ninth for the Padres before stumbling and handing the Brewers a 3-2 win. Lawrence (3-6) allowed Scott Podsednik's double and Brady Clark singled to score Podsednik. Clark took second on a wild pitch and scored the tying run on Wes Helms' double. Helms scored the go-ahead run on Eddie Perez's single. . . . Orlando Cabrera's bloop RBI single capped a three-run rally in the seventh inning that carried the Expos over the Marlins, 3-2.

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