Colorado, Arizona ready to battle in the N.L.

It will be an all-West championship series as both teams swept their opponents.

>PHOENIX (AP) – When the Arizona Diamondbacks look across the field at the Colorado Rockies this week, they might feel as if they’re looking into a mirror.

The teams took similar routes to an unlikely destination – the NL championship series.

“We’re going to have our hands full with Arizona, a tough team,” Rockies outfielder Jeff Baker said. “We know them. They know us.”

Start with their records: Arizona won the NL West with a league-best 90-72. The Rockies, who had to defeat San Diego in a one-game playoff to earn a wild card berth, finished 90-73.

Both clubs have built from within, and they’ve done it relatively cheaply. The Rockies entered the season with a payroll of $54.4 million, $2.4 million more than the Diamondbacks. Only four clubs had lower payrolls.

Instead of spending on free agents, both organizations committed to building through the draft. Two of their finest products can be found at shortstop – Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki, drafted in the first round two years ago, and Arizona’s Stephen Drew, picked in the first round a year earlier.

Game one on Thursday night will pit dazzling starting pitchers Brandon Webb of Arizona and Jeff Francis of Colorado. Both are homegrown.

“It speaks to the good old-fashioned values of baseball: scouting and player development and building from within and being patient and taking chances and things working out,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said after the Rockies wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in their NL playoff series.

Inexperience can prove costly. But for the Diamondbacks and the Rockies, what they don’t know hasn’t hurt them.

“With this team, everybody calls us young, but I think it’s the most exciting team I’ve been on,” said Drew, the younger brother of Boston’s J.D. Drew.

The playoffs have been sweet for two teams that have struggled in recent years.

Colorado, which lost 94 games in 2004 and 95 in 2005, posted its first winning record since 2000. The Diamondbacks went 51-111 three years ago, and this year they broke a streak of three consecutive losing seasons, longest in the franchise’s 10 years.

Both started slowly this year; the Diamondbacks were 47-43 at the All-Star break, third in the NL West, three-and-a-half games behind San Diego. Colorado was 44-44 and in fourth place, five-and-a-half games out.

“Everybody has been waiting for them to fall on their faces, but they’re a good team,” Colorado reliever Brian Fuentes said of the Diamondbacks. “No one projected us to be where we are, so it’s going to be two very good ball clubs going at it.”

Instead of quitting, both teams kept playing hard. That’s a credit to Hurdle and Arizona manager Bob Melvin, as well as the desire of younger players to stick in the major leagues.

“It’s a team,” said Arizona left fielder Eric Byrnes, one of the Diamondbacks’ few veterans. “It’s as much of a team as you’ll find in professional sports today.

“You have 25 guys pulling for each other,” Byrnes said. “I’ve never heard one guy complain all year. We have guys who are ready to win. We’ve already exceeded expectation so far and we’re going to continue to do so.”

The Diamondbacks and Rockies have shown a penchant for hot streaks. The Diamondbacks won 17 of 20 in July and August, taking over first place.

The Rockies have won 17 of their last 18, the hottest streak in their 15-year history.

Boston sweeps Halos

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – With a bin full of ice water and a mischievous grin, Manny Ramirez found David Ortiz in the chaos of a champagne celebration and picked out the next target to be soaked.

Sneaking up from behind, Ramirez doused general manager Theo Epstein.

He was immediately forgiven.

“It’s OK,” Epstein said, squeezing the water from his hair, “only because you didn’t make an out the whole series.”

Ortiz and Ramirez are working together again, and just at the right time for the Red Sox. The two sluggers hit back-to-back homers to break a scoreless tie, and Boston went on to beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-1 on Sunday to sweep their first-round AL playoff series.

“Hopefully, we’re going to see it for three more weeks,” third baseman Mike Lowell said. “Those two guys are special. We lean on them, and they come through for us.”

The Angels walked Ortiz four times in game two Friday night, only to see Ramirez win it on a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth. Unable to safely pitch around Ortiz in the finale, the Angels challenged him – and paid for it.

Ortiz hit the second pitch from Jered Weaver over the right-field fence to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Next came the cleanup hitter, who slammed a 3-2 pitch to the edge of the center-field rocks, pausing and posing as it bounced around.

“There’s as good a 1-2 punch as there is in baseball,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

But it was the first time this season that the two Red Sox sluggers hit consecutive homers.