Rockies win opener

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Updated: March 2, 2006 at 12:00 am • Published: March 2, 2006
TUCSON, Ariz. - The defending champions got off to a rough start — even if it was only their exhibition opener. Seven Colorado pitchers combined to allow three hits, and the Rockies beat the White Sox 6-1 Wednesday in Chicago’s first game since winning the World Series. A leadoff single by Rob Mackowiak and a second-inning single by Jermaine Dye were Chicago’s only hits until the ninth, and both came off Rockies starter and winner Jason Jennings. White Sox starter Jose Contreras, who went 11-2 during the second half last season and 3-1 in the postseason, gave up four hits and two runs in three innings. He took the loss. Danny Ardoin hit a solo homer off Contreras in the third to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead. Colorado made it 2-0 on an RBI double by Todd Helton. Colorado increased it to 3-0 with a run in the sixth off Jon Garland, an 18-game winner last year. Garrett Atkins hit an RBI single following another double by Helton. Colorado got three more in the ninth off knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, thanks to a third-strike passed ball, an RBI single by Eli Marrero and a two-run, fly ball double by Jason Smith. Chicago broke through in the ninth when Jerry Owens tripled and Robert Valido hit a sacrifice fly off Mike Esposito. “In spring training I like to see the kids, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. The veterans “are not ready yet and it gives me an opportunity to give the kids two or three atbats in spring training. “We didn’t look too good, but there is nothing you can go by. You got to wait for a couple of days when they get ready.” Jennings, the Rockies’ opening day starter, pitched for the first time in a game since July 20 when he broke a finger on his right hand while sliding into second base. He gave up two hits in two scoreless innings. “It was the first game for me in eight or nine months,” Jennings said. “It felt good, especially facing the ‘A’ lineup for the world champs. It definitely was a good way to get it kick started. I was a little nervous and could feel the adrenalin pumping.” Contreras and Garland pitched three innings each. “I felt fine after having such a long time off,” Contreras said through a translator. “No problem.” Contreras said the White Sox want to get back to the postseason. “I think the team will be a lot better. . . . The goal is to win our division first and go from there,” he said. A crowd of 3,468 sat through a drizzly afternoon. Guillen wasn’t worried about so many empty seats after winning the World Series four months ago. “It’s too far away to come from Chicago,” he said. “I think it will be better. .The weather didn’t help us. They will show up.”
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