The Rockies can clinch their fifth series win in as many tries against San Diego on Saturday at Petco Park, with the Padres flirting with trouble after their eighth consecutive loss.
Colorado (70-64) dropped three in a row to fall 6 1/2 back in the wild-card race prior to arriving in San Diego, but had a record of success that showed it could bounce back against the Padres.
The Rockies had taken two out of three in each of four series versus San Diego (76-57), and they’re on the verge of winning another set after Friday’s opener. Jason Giambi(notes) and Troy Tulowitzki(notes) each hit two-run homers in a 4-3 victory, and suddenly Colorado is as close to the Padres as it is to wild card-leading Philadelphia.
“What we talked about at the beginning of the season was winning the division,” Tulowitzki told the Rockies’ official website just before the opener. “That’s what gets you into the playoffs the easiest way. You don’t have to fight for the wild card.”
San Francisco’s loss in Los Angeles kept San Diego’s division lead at three, but the Padres’ eight-game skid is five longer than any slide they have experienced in this surprising season.
A home series against Chicago from Sept. 27-30 marks San Diego’s only remaining games against sub-.500 competition.
The Padres play a three-game road series Sept. 13-15 against Colorado, which looks to pull closer with Jason Hammel(notes) (9-7, 4.32 ERA) on the hill Saturday. The right-hander won for only the second time since the All-Star break Sunday, holding the Dodgers to two runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 10-5 victory.
Hammel is 2-0 with a 4.19 ERA in three starts against the Padres this season, and he couldn’t be catching them at a better time. San Diego is hitting .174 with runners in scoring position during a skid in which it’s averaged 2.4 runs.
Garland gave up only three hits last Saturday against Philadelphia, but three walks and a hit batsman contributed to him allowing three runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 3-1 loss.
“Those always come back to hurt you,” Garland said of the walks. “That goes without even saying.”
Garland is 1-1 with a 3.66 ERA in three career starts versus Colorado.
Like every NL pitcher, he’ll be wary of what he throws to Carlos Gonzalez(notes). The Rockies’ star outfielder, hitting .500 with six homers over his last 11 games, is 8 for 13 with five doubles against Garland.