Padres 4, Rockies 2
“It barely got out,” said Klesko, who watched his 381-foot drive land on top of the scoreboard on the right-field wall at Petco Park to give the Padres a 2-1 lead in the third inning.
Klesko is one of the Padres’ sluggers who complained early on about how deep right and right-center are at the new downtown ballpark. Now he seems resigned to the park’s dimensions.
“I’m not worried about home runs,” said Klesko, who’s gone deep only four times since the All-Star break last year. “It’s all about winning.
“Obviously I’m just going to hit the ball hard and drive in runs and help my team win,” he said. “It’s a big ballpark. I’m going to try to hit line drives. Ever since I came off the disabled list I feel like I’m swinging the bat good. That’s a positive.”
Klesko, who homered off Denny Stark with one out in the third inning, had gone 152 at-bats since his last homer on April 18 against Arizona, a game-winner in the ninth.
Klesko had 19 homers before the break last season and finished with 21. He missed most of September after having surgery on his right shoulder. He missed 17 games earlier this year while on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his ribcage.
Klesko averaged 26 homers in his previous four seasons with the Padres.
“It’s been talked about,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s been sitting on one for a while. So I thought that was great for his confidence and huge for us. It put us on top. It came at a good time, too.”
The Padres avoided being swept in the four-game series by the Rockies, who go into the break having won eight of 10 games. Dating to the final series of the 2003 season, the Padres have beaten the Rockies only twice in nine games in San Diego.
The Padres, who lost an NL-worst 98 games last year, go into the break in third place in the NL West at 47-41, two games behind Los Angeles and a half game behind San Francisco.
“We’re just hoping these guys will bounce back and have their normal seasons and the second half should be a good half for us,” Bochy said.
“We’ve done a good job,” Klesko said. “Generally we’ve been playing really good ball. Obviously we’re going to have to try to improve offensively to go along with this great pitching staff we’ve got.”
Loretta, San Diego’s only All-Star, homered to left off Allan Simpson leading off the seventh. It was his eighth.
Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save in 26 chances. He blew a save opportunity Friday night.
Neither starter was dominant. Ismael Valdez (8-5) went five innings, allowing one run and six hits while walking four and striking out none. Stark (0-4) also went five, giving up three runs and five hits, walking five and striking out two.
“You walk five guys and it’s an issue,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s pitched in two pitcher-friendly ballparks and he’s had trouble.”
In his previous start, Stark allowed nine hits and six runs, three earned, at San Francisco. He got a no-decision in the Rockies’ 8-6 win.
“I’ve been getting behind early and getting into hitter’s counts,” Stark said. “That’s a tough way to pitch.
“I should have made a better pitch to Klesko. I threw him a sinker, but it stayed straight and right over the plate.”
Todd Helton gave the Rockies a 1-0 lead with his one-out single in the third. The Rockies then loaded the bases with a double by Larry Walker and a walk to Jeromy Burnitz before Valdez retired Preston Wilson and Charles Johnson.
Jay Payton hit an RBI single in fifth to give the Padres a 3-1 lead.
Even with the loss, the Rockies finished this trip 5-2, the third-best in team history. … Klesko is on pace for his lowest home run totals since hitting 17 in 1994. … After allowing no homers in his first 32 2-3 innings,Otsuka has allowed four in his last 8 2-3.
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