DENVER (AP)—As San Diego’s trainer made his way to the mound in the sixth inning, almost everyone in the stadium thought Ismael Valdez was hurt.
Nope. He was just trying to catch his breath in the Mile High City’s thin air.
Not known for his hitting, Valdez wasn’t used to all the running that goes with a 3-for-3 night. And it showed. He was lightheaded by the time he reached second on his double in the sixth inning and it didn’t get any better when he reached the mound in the bottom half.
“It’s tough to breathe here,” said Valdez, 2-for-29 before Monday. “When the trainer came out it was more to get some time to make sure everything was fine. I had to have time to catch my breath.”
San Diego’s offense gave him just that.
Mark Loretta had four hits and three RBIs, Terrence Long homered and had two RBIs, and the Padres had 18 hits—every starter had at least one—to win for the fourth time in five games since a four-game losing streak.
And it keeps getting better for the Padres. Earlier Monday, San Diego acquired Rich Aurilia from the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named or cash. Aurilia, a former All-Star, will back up rookie shortstop Khalil Greene.
“We’ve been waiting to hit like this all year,” said Loretta, who finished 4-for-6. “We felt offense was going to be our strength and it has been our pitching carrying us. If we can get hitting like this to combine with pitching, we are going to be tough.”
The right-hander showed signs of coming around in his last two starts, but never gave the Rockies much of a chance in this one and was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin.
“It’s been bothering me the past couple of starts, but I don’t know that it’s had an impact,” Stark said.
Stark gave up three runs in the first, four in the third and didn’t come out for the fourth after allowing eight runs on 10 hits. It was the third time in six starts he’s allowed seven or more runs, raising his ERA to 11.42.
“He did not give us a good shot at winning the ballgame tonight,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
Valdez (9-5) didn’t have his best stuff, particularly after his sixth-inning double, but he pitched just well enough for his third straight win.
The right-hander allowed five runs and nine hits—three homers—in 5 2-3 innings, which was plenty good enough the way the Padres were swinging.
After getting just five hits against Roger Clemens in a 5-3 loss to Houston on Sunday, San Diego nearly matched that total in the first inning and doubled it by the third to take an 8-2 lead.
Walker and Burnitz hit solo homers three pitches apart to put a dent in the lead in the bottom half, but the Padres kept pounding away at Stark.
Long led off the third inning with his second homer of the year, then Miguel Ojeda scored when center fielder Preston Wilson was charged with an error after bobbling Valdez’s single. Burroughs followed with an RBI double and Loretta made it 8-2 with his third hit, a run-scoring single to left.
San Diego’s lead went to 9-2 in the fourth inning on Loretta’s hard RBI single off Travis Driskill.
The Padres got three more in the sixth off Allan Simpson on Ojeda’s RBI single and Valdez’s two-run double over Wilson’s head in center.
“We’re swinging well,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “This is a ballpark there’s no safe lead. We came out swinging and had some big hits.”
Colorado scored three runs in the sixth on Vinny Castilla’s run-scoring double and a two-run homer by Burnitz, his third in two games and 21st overall. That chased Valdez, but it only cut the lead to 12-5.
“They were still into the game, but it’s very taxing,” Burnitz said. “We had a couple of opportunities here and there, and we scored six runs and had a dozen hits. It is what it is.”
Bochy said 1B Phil Nevin (knee) will likely come off the DL Wednesday instead of Tuesday, as the team originally planned. … Wilson turned 30 Monday. … Driskill allowed a run and three hits in two innings in his Colorado debut.