Rockies Win As Hurdle Replaces Bell

Saturday, April 27th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Clint Hurdle's primary goal as the new manager of the Colorado Rockies is to make baseball fun again for his team. Judging by the smiles in the clubhouse, he succeeded.

John Thomson took a shutout into the eighth inning, and Larry Walker's outfield throw gunned down a runner at the plate as the Rockies beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 Friday night in Hurdle's managerial debut.

Hurdle, the team's batting coach, succeeded Buddy Bell, fired earlier in the day after the Rockies opened the season 6-16 _ the worst start in their history.

``That was a good step,'' Hurdle said. ``We got a quality start out of John Thomson. He was very effective, throwing strikes and keeping the ball down.

``Offensively, we tried to rattle and roll, tried to draw some things up in the dirt to see if they'd work.

``Walker made an unbelievable throw. He's the only guy who can make that play. That kept the momentum going our way.''

Thomson (3-2) went 7 1-3 innings, departing after an RBI triple by Jason Michaels in the eighth.

Michaels tried to score on Scott Rolen's fly ball, but Walker threw him out for a double play.

It was Walker's fifth outfield assist of the season, giving him 73 as a Rockie to tie Dante Bichette's club record.

Thomson allowed seven hits, with no walks and eight strikeouts.

Jose Jimenez struck out two in a perfect ninth for his fifth save in five chances.

``I feel good,'' Hurdle said, ``but today is not a euphoric day by any means. It's a bittersweet day because a good baseball man is out of a job, temporarily.''

Bell, in his third season with Colorado, had a 161-185 record. He previously managed in Detroit.

Hurdle, 44, said he felt comfortable being in charge. ``As I told the coaching staff, obviously this is new territory for me, so I'm going to need their help.''

Walker called Hurdle a ``fun-loving guy,'' and Thomson agreed.

``The first thing he told us today was to have fun,'' Thomson said. ``That's what we had to do today and take what has happened in the past and put it behind us.''

At a news conference three hours before the game, Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd said the change was not about assigning blame but about trying to turn around the team's sluggish start.

``Quite honestly, we need to start playing the game with more joy and more confidence than we've played already this year,'' O'Dowd said. ``We really need to start building some positive momentum.''

O'Dowd said Hurdle will manage the team the remainder of the season and will not wear the ``interim'' tag.

``Clint brings passion, he brings enthusiasm, he brings a charisma I think this ballclub needs,'' O'Dowd said.

The enthusiasm seemed contagious Friday night. Todd Zeile and Todd Hollandsworth had RBI singles in the first, and Todd Helton scored on a wild pitch in the seventh. Juan Uribe added a two-out RBI single in the eighth.

Terry Adams (0-3) went six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits.

``We haven't been getting the big hit,'' Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. ``It's been one of our many Achilles' heels. If you score one run here, you don't deserve to win.''