Work in Sports
Here's the catch
Mayne, Melhuse unlikely heroes in Rockies' wild win
DENVER (AP) -- He shook off his catcher, experimented with a split-fingered pitch and even made a couple of pickoff throws to first.
Aside from the two balls he threw to the backstop, it was hard to tell Brent Mayne had no experience as a pitcher.
Mayne became the first position player to be a winning pitcher since 1968 -- the year he was born -- working a scoreless inning Tuesday night as the Colorado Rockies beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6 in 12 innings.
Mayne, a catcher, was called on for his first major league pitching appearance after the Rockies ran out of relievers.
"I'd never been on the mound before in my life," he said. "I was just firing it as hard as I could throw it and trying not to get killed. ... Most bizarre? Yes."
Mayne (1-0) wound up as the first major league position player with a win since outfielder Rocky Colavito threw 2 2/3 shutout innings for the New York Yankees against Detroit in the first game of a doubleheader Aug. 25, 1968.
The last NL position player to get a win had been Pittsburgh second baseman Johnny O'Brien on July 3, 1956, against Philadelphia.
"It's been that long? I find that hard to believe," O'Brien, 69, said from his home in Seattle. "I'm sure he's very happy. I know I was when I did it."
Adam Melhuse's first career hit, an RBI single with two outs in the 12th, won it. Melhuse pinch-hit with the bases loaded for Mayne, who was unable to bat because of a sore left wrist.
"When I saw it sail over the shortstop's head and hit the outfield, I don't know what I was doing out there," said Melhuse, who had been 0-for-6. "Then I saw [first base coach] Dallas Williams point to first base and say, 'Touch first base.'"
Melhuse was the offensive hero, but there was no doubt about the Mayne attraction. After becoming the first position player to pitch for the Rockies, Mayne left the field to a standing ovation.
"Hopefully we won't have to use him there anymore," Rockies manager Buddy Bell said.
John Rocker (1-1) took the loss and snapped at reporters in the clubhouse. "Beat it!" he said. "I'm not talking."
Colorado used 10 pitchers, tying the NL record set by the Chicago Cubs against Pittsburgh in a 17-inning game that began on April 20, 1986, and was finished that Aug. 11.
In a bit of irony, Mayne's first batter was pitcher Tom Glavine, who pinch-hit for reliever Scott Kamieniecki.
"He's a better hitter than I am a pitcher. That's for sure," Mayne said.
Furcal moved up on a wild pitch and, after a walk to Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones hit a routine grounder to third for the final out -- completing one of the most unlikely pitching performances ever at Coors Field.
Said Chipper Jones: "It's a lose-lose situation. If you get a hit, you're supposed to, and if you don't, you're a geek."
Mayne, 32, has been in the majors since 1990. He received hearty congratulations after retiring Chipper Jones -- the reigning NL MVP -- and got hugs and handshakes once the Rockies won.
"I'm sure stranger things will happen throughout the course of time," Bell said, "but this probably ranks up as one of the stranger things that I've ever been involved with."
Jeffrey Hammonds hit a soft liner to short center and Andruw Jones, playing in, made the catch as Perez held.
When asked about the most aggravating part of the game, Braves manager Bobby Cox said, "Losing. That's what's aggravating."
Before Mayne, the last position player to get a decision as pitcher was Los Angeles third baseman Jeff Hamilton, who took the loss as the Dodgers were defeated in a 22-inning game at Houston on June 3, 1989.
Lost in the bizarre finish was an 11th-inning brawl that started when Andres Galarraga, who spent five seasons in Colorado, charged the mound after being hit in the shoulder by Rockies reliever John Wasdin on a 3-2 pitch.
Galarraga was slowly walking toward first base when Wasdin gestured at him. Galarraga rushed Wasdin, and the benches emptied.
Wasdin, Galarraga and Bell were ejected.
"If Galarraga's going to instigate, he's the one who should be thrown out of the game," Bell said. "What's Wasdin supposed to do? Run out into left field? It's unbelieveable. Unbelievable."
Chipper Jones went 3-for-6 and hit his fourth homer in three games for the Braves.
Notes: Colorado OF Juan Pierre extended his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest to open a major league career in at least 25 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Braves leadoff hitter Furcal went 1-for-6 and is 3-for-32 in his last seven games. ... Before the game, the Rockies traded LHP Scott Karl and cash to the Anaheim Angels for a player to be named.