Switching uniforms hasn’t slowed him down at the hitter-friendly park.
Payton had four hits and four RBIs, including a two-run homer in the eighth inning, to lead the San Diego Padres over Colorado 11-6 Tuesday night.
“I haven’t been swinging it great this year and I was just kind of hoping that I could come in here and get hot and maybe try to carry it over,” Payton said. “Today was a good day, and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Payton came to Colorado in a 2002 trade with the New York Mets and wound up hitting .335 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in his first 47 games at Coors Field. He followed that up with the best season of his career, batting .302 with 28 homers and 89 RBIs.
Payton’s big season essentially put him out of Colorado’s price range—the Rockies got Jeromy Burnitz to play left field for less money—but there were no hard feelings from either side when he signed with the Padres.
“It was a business decision and it didn’t work out for us or for them,” Payton said. “I had no problem, but it was nice to come in and get a win.”
Colorado lost its sixth straight, but certainly didn’t have any trouble at the plate in its fourth consecutive game without injured slugger Todd Helton (back). Luis Gonzalez was 4-for-5, Royce Clayton homered and the Rockies had 12 hits.
Pitching was what hurt Colorado—again.
Joe Kennedy gave up six runs and seven hits in five innings, Jeff Fassero (0-3) gave up the go-ahead run on three two-strike hits in the seventh and Brian Fuentes was roughed up for three runs in the eighth.
Colorado’s six pitchers combined for six walks, allowed 16 hits and gave up at least 10 runs for the 11th time this season.
“We pitch like we did tonight, we are not going to win many ballgames,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We have been playing with trouble, but tonight really caught up to us.”
Colorado led 6-3 in the fourth after Gonzalez scored on Dennis Tankersley’s wild pitch, but that was about it for the Rockies. Colorado’s bullpen gave up eight runs in the final four innings, leading to the Rockies’ longest losing streak since dropping eight straight at the end of last season.
“We didn’t have a good night with pitching and we are trying to put together a whole game,” left fielder Matt Holliday said. “Tonight, we didn’t do that.”
San Diego’s pitching wasn’t much better in the early going, but the bullpen did its job.
Five Padres relievers allowed four hits in the final six innings, and Scott Linebrink (2-0) got the win by striking out two in a scoreless sixth.
“The ‘pen saved us,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They made it possible for us to come back.”
Clayton hit a solo homer in the first inning, his fifth. But the lead didn’t last long.
Phil Nevin led off the next inning with a single off the wall in right-center, and Miguel Ojeda reached out three batters later to lift a two-run homer just over the wall near the same spot for his first of the season.
Valdez had trouble keeping the ball down, allowing six runs and nine hits in three innings. The right-hander also walked three and has given up 22 earned runs in 26 innings his last five starts.
“It wasn’t a good start for us,” Bochy said. “Izzy was struggling with his location. That’s a tough thing about this park. You have to be a little patient.”
Kennedy worked quickly and effectively early before running into trouble in the fifth. He walked two in the three-run inning, giving up a two-run single by Payton and another single by Ryan Klesko that tied it at 6.
Kennedy walked four and allowed more than three runs for just the second time in 10 starts.
“Pretty much everything was wrong tonight,” he said. “I didn’t have any of my pitches. I didn’t have command and couldn’t make pitches when I needed to.”
San Diego went up 7-6 in the seventh on Khalil Greene’s single off Fassero, then pushed it to 10-6 on a run-scoring single by Nevin and Payton’s thirdhomer of the year just over the wall in left.
Greene took a hit away from Burnitz in the third inning by barehanding a slow roller. … Holliday ended an 0-for-11 slump in the third inning with a double off the top of the wall in right. … At 5-18, Colorado has the worstrecord in the majors in night games.