Rockies 10, Padres 5

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DENVER (AP)—Colorado pitcher Darren Oliver has reached a comfort level at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

And it all begins with catcher Charles Johnson.

“With CJ back there, it’s just like playing catch in the backyard with your dad as a kid,” Oliver said. “We’re always in sync at home and I don’t think about the ballpark.”

Chris Stynes hit his first career grand slam and Brent Butler and Jay Payton added solo home runs to help Oliver remain undefeated at home as the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 10-5 Thursday night.

“We have a rhythm going,” Johnson said. “And the more I catch him, the better feel I have for his pitches.”

Todd Helton and Preston Wilson had four hits apiece for the Rockies, who salvaged a split in the four-game series. Wilson also had three RBIs.

After the game Colorado traded All-Star shortstop Jose Hernandez to the Chicago Cubs for infielder Mark Bellhorn and minor league pitcher Travis Anderson.

It was the 200th career start for Oliver (4-5), who allowed three runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. He improved to 4-0 with a 3.08 ERA in six starts at home. He is 0-5 with a 6.91 ERA in eight starts away from Coors Field.

“Other than CJ, there is no explanation,” Oliver said.

Brian Lawrence (4-8) gave up six runs and eight hit in four innings, his shortest start since lasting 2 2-3 innings on May 8 at Montreal. Mark Kotsay doubled and drove in two runs for San Diego.

“Brian wasn’t himself with his command,” San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said. “He got some balls up there and they took advantage of it.”

Stynes’ grand slam came with two outs in the first inning. Helton and Wilson singled and Larry Walker drew a walk after Lawrence had retired the first two batters he faced. Stynes then drove a 1-1 pitch into the seats in left.

“He sort of left me one over the plate,” Stynes said. “It was my first grand slam and it took me parts of nine years to get one.”

With two outs in the second, San Diego’s Donaldo Mendez doubled past third base to drive in Xavier Nady. Mendez also hit a two-run homer in the ninth.

Butler and Payton homered to left in the fourth to extend the Rockies’ lead to 6-1.

San Diego got within 6-3 in the seventh when Oliver issued two-out walks to Keith Lockhart and Brian Buchanan. Kotsay drove in both with an opposite-field double to left.

“I probably left Darren out there too long,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “He had given us six very efficient innings of baseball.”

In the seventh, Wilson had an RBI single and Johnson hit a sacrifice fly off Jesse Orosco.

“This is a game where I had to go out there and out of my four pitches I had to throw the two I don’t work with and that’s my cutter and changeup,” Lawrence said. “If I can’t go out there and throw my sinker and slider, it’sjust not going to be a good day for me.”


: Sean Burroughs sat out the game with a strained hamstring. … The Padres will evaluate shortstop Ramon Vazquez on Friday before deciding whether to bring him off the DL. … Mendez was 0-for-9 in the series before his RBI double in the second inning. … Pitcher Adam Eaton pinch-hit for Lawrence and struck out. … Outfielder Gabe Kapler was given his unconditional release by the Rockies. … Ian Stewart, Colorado’s 2003 first-round draft choice, hit aball off the facing of the third deck in right field during batting practice.

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