DENVER -- The ball goes a long way when Todd Helton makes contact in a pinch-hitting role, but don't call him a pinch-hitter.
Helton has struggled with a .227 batting average this year, so manager Walt Weiss is sitting him against tough starting left-handers, such as the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, who started Friday. But Helton parked a two-run homer off Brandon League in the second deck Friday to tie the game with one out in the ninth, only to see the Rockies lose, 7-5, in 10.
Helton is 2-for-7 as a pinch-hitter, but both hits are homers. A regular throughout his career, Helton has a predictably low pinch-hit average -- .179 (10-for-56) -- but his hits include four home runs and a double, and he has drawn 11 walks. It's a role where he tries his best, but freely admits it's not one for which he's suited.
"Pinch-hitting is not easy," said Helton, who has been teammates with some standout pinch-hitters in Colorado -- Greg Colbrunn, Lenny Harris, Greg Norton, Mark Sweeney and Jason Giambi. "When you have a guy who can pinch-hit, it's the hardest thing to do in sports. You get one at-bat, and it's usually against a tough guy and it's ... a guy like myself, who puts so much pressure on an at-bat, pinch-hitting is not really my forte.
"I have always known it was no easy feat to go out there and do that. I have always had immense respect for guys who could do that."
Weiss, who believes in Helton's ability to hit despite the early slump, isn't calling Helton the "P-H" word, either.
"He's going to be starting a lot, too, so it's not like that's going to be his role," Weiss said. "But when he is over there and he's available to hit late in the game, it makes it tough on the opposing team knowing he's sitting there and he's going to give it a good at-bat and he's going to be a tough out.
"We have a feel for the days that he's going to have off. We talk about it. He pretty much knows when he's not going to be playing. I don't see him as a bat off the bench. I see him as a guy who's going to be playing a lot."
Helton's homer Friday came at the end of an 11-pitch at-bat in which he battled back from a 1-2 count. It was the type of grit that has helped him to 2,442 career hits. But even Helton, in the starting lineup Saturday against Dodgers righty Zack Greinke, doesn't know if it will power him to a run of success.
"I'll let you know in three hours," Helton said before Saturday's game. "I mean, you can't tell. It's hard to say until I get out there and start doing it on a consistent basis."
Corpas returns with Betancourt going to DL
DENVER -- Manny Corpas, the closer on the Rockies' 2007 team that appeared in the World Series, is making his return to Colorado.
Closer Rafael Betancourt went on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a right groin strain, and the Rockies purchased the contract of Corpas, who is 2-3 with a 5.19 ERA, 31 strikeouts and 15 walks in 34 2/3 innings and 17 appearances at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Corpas, 31, made 224 appearances for the Rockies from 2006-10 before elbow surgery led to his departure. Corpas was 0-2 with a 5.01 ERA in 48 appearances with the Cubs last season. He rejoined the Rockies under a Minor League contract during the winter.
The club had also discussed promoting right-hander Chris Volstad, who began the season with the Rockies, and right-hander Logan Kensing, who pitched in the Majors with the Marlins and the Nationals, but were leaning heavily toward Corpas as of Saturday afternoon, according to a source.
In Corpas' first full season with the Rockies in 2007, he went 4-2 with a 2.08 ERA. He took over for Brian Fuentes as closer and earned 19 regular-season saves. He also earned two postseason saves.
Betancourt (1-3, 11-of-12 on save chances, 3.20 ERA) has chronic issues with scar tissue around the site of a 2009 right groin surgery. A major flare-up occurred May 21, when he had to be removed from an appearance against the D-backs. Betancourt has tried to pitch through pain since, but gave up runs in two of his three appearances, both losses.
The Rockies are likely to make left-hander Rex Brothers (1-0, 0.38 ERA, one save) the closer in Betancourt's absence.
Brothers' scoreless ninth inning in Saturday's 7-6, 10-inning victory against the Dodgers was his 23rd straight scoreless outing, spanning 21 1/3 innings.
Betancourt lands on DL with lingering groin tightness
DENVER -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss said the condition of closer Rafael Betancourt's right groin is a subject he monitors closely through daily conversations with head athletic trainer Keith Dugger and pitching coach Jim Wright, and the Rockies announced Saturday that it will require a trip to the 15-day disabled list.
Betancourt's problem is scar tissue around the site of a 2009 right groin surgery, which flares up occasionally every season.
In two of the three games since he was removed from a May 21 appearance because of groin tightness, Betancourt has been touched up for runs in games when wins were within reach.
Last Saturday, Troy Tulowitzki homered in the 10th to put the Rockies ahead at San Francisco, but Betancourt gave up a two-run, inside-the-park homer to Angel Pagan for his first blown save this season. Friday night, after Todd Helton tied the Dodgers with a towering two-run homer in the ninth, Betancourt gave up two runs and three hits in the 10th, taking a 7-5 loss.
"Raffy's still dealing with the groin, and he's trying to work around that," Weiss said. "Some days it's better than others, but I don't think there's any doubt he's trying to work through that.
"I love having him out there, but I check every day with 'Doogie' on our pitching and Jimmy Wright, find out their condition on that day. There have been days with Raffy when I've tried to stay away from him, and fortunately some days I didn't have to use him when he wasn't feeling great."
LeMahieu hopes to solve Rockies problems in two-hole
DENVER -- Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu aided his cause to lock up a steady place in the lineup Friday, when he went 2-for-4 in a 10-inning loss to the Dodgers.
LeMahieu reached base on a single in the bottom of the ninth, before Todd Helton belted a towering pinch-hit, game-tying home run to right field. The loss ended a brief slump for the 24-year-old LeMahieu, who entered with just one hit in his previous 11 at-bats.
His first hit of the night was a double off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the seventh and instilled an extra touch of confidence in LeMahieu.
"Getting a hit off Kershaw, he's one of the best in the league," LeMahieu said. "So getting a double off him, I know I can get a hit off anybody."
Manager Walt Weiss penciled LeMahieu into the two-hole Saturday in the second leg of a three-game series with the Dodgers, his fourth game in that spot. Though he has hit just .154 when hitting second, if LeMahieu maintains Friday's pace, he could solve the Rockies' season-long struggle to find a consistent bat in that spot.
"He's been trying to find it a little bit offensively for a week or so, but looks like he's right back to being himself," Weiss said. "He's a guy I like in that two-hole because he can hit the ball to the right side of the field, he's going to make contact."
In 15 games, LeMahieu is batting a steady .295 with three doubles and three RBIs. He has hit from six different spots in the lineup this year, and said that experience makes him equally comfortable wherever Weiss slots him.
"I feel like this lineup changes all the time and I know the skipper likes to change it up a lot," he said. "So wherever I'm hitting, I'm going to take the same approach."
• As highlighted by Bill Chuck, managing editor of the Baseball Analytics Web site, Major League runners were successful on steals at a rate of 73.2 percent in May, but the Rockies were way above -- 96 percent (24-of-25).
• The Rockies have had three extra-inning losses in the past week, two coming after dramatic late homers either put them ahead or tied games. But Weiss doesn't detect a hangover.
"I think the morale of the team is still very good," Weiss said. "Even today, after a tough loss, there's a lot of energy in there, and this morning, I don't doubt the way we show up. I've said that all year, we've shown up well every day, and that's still the case."
• Rockies righty reliever Wilton Lopez threw a clean eighth with one strikeout Friday against the Dodgers, after giving up three runs over 1 2/3 innings in two appearances earlier this week against the Astros, who traded him to the Rockies in December.
Some had theorized that Lopez was trying to do too much against his former club. One concern has been opponents are hitting the ball in the air against Lopez, whom the Rockies acquired specifically because of his history of forcing ground balls. But he's been scored on in just three of his past 20 appearances.
"Over the last several weeks, Wilton has thrown the ball very well," Weiss said. "He's had a couple of tough outings in that Astros series. But before that, he was on quite a roll. I still feel comfortable bringing him in games and getting outs."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Read Harding's blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.