Rockies 9, Padres 7

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DENVER (AP)—With a roster littered with rookies and little more than pride left to play for, the Colorado Rockies sure are making a difference in the NL wild-card race.

Todd Helton had three RBIs and rookie Aaron Miles hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the seventh inning to help the Rockies overcome another shaky outing by their bullpen in a 9-7 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.

“September baseball is fun,” Miles said. “Anytime you can get a hit that means something to somebody else, it’s fun to just go out and compete day in and day out.”

The fourth-place Rockies have been out of the playoff hunt since about June and have used a franchise-record 17 rookies this season, including at least one in all 139 games. That hasn’t stopped them from affecting the wild-card chase down the stretch.

In a little more than a week, Colorado has gone 3-2 against the Giants and won four of five against the Padres, who still have three more games left at Coors Field.

“It’s an exciting time for them and these are the most meaningful games a lot of them have ever played,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

Ramon Hernandez had three RBIs and Khalil Greene hit his 12th homer for San Diego, which got 14 hits but dropped 2 1/2 games behind NL wild-card leaders San Francisco and Houston. The Padres have lost seven of 10.

“This was a devastating loss,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They grate on you. We are in a situation where we’ve got to win ballgames.”

Colorado got a solid outing from starter Jason Jennings, but its bullpen couldn’t hold the lead—again.

Up 7-3 after a three-run sixth inning, Rockies relievers Jeff Fassero and Adam Bernero gave up four runs in the seventh to let the Padres back in it. This after reliever Steve Reed gave up four runs in the eighth inning of a 5-3 loss to San Francisco the night before.

“We’re just having some turbulence out of the bullpen,” Hurdle said. “It’s not like they’re out there wanting to give up runs, but we’re not very effective coming out of there.”

But this time, the Rockies came back.

Jorge Piedra hit a two-out single off Scott Linebrink (7-2), then Choo Freeman followed with a double off the wall in left. Miles broke the tie with a single up the middle that scored Piedra and Freeman.

Javier Lopez (1-2) got the final out in the seventh and one in the eighth to earn the win. Shawn Chacon worked the ninth for his 34th save in 42 chances, retiring Sean Burroughs with two on to end it.

“It’s a hard one to swallow,” San Diego’s Ryan Klesko said. “You don’t understand how devastating. We can’t afford to come in here and lose.”

Jennings was hit hard—as usual—but—as usual—was able to control most of the damage.

The right-hander allowed seven hits in the first four innings, stranding five runners and allowing just one run each in the second and fourth.

Jennings needed nine pitches to get through the fifth inning, then gave up just one run in the sixth after San Diego had runners on second and third with none out. He was lifted for a pinch-runner after walking in the sixth inning.

Jennings allowed three runs and eight hits in his 100th career start, losing out on a win because of a blown save for the third time this season.

“I pitched through some traffic, but that is what I normally do here—and I got out of it,” said Jennings, who also had a run-scoring single in the fourth.

San Diego’s Justin Germano, making his fourth career start, had a decent outing going until taking a grounder off his left calf in the fourth inning. The right-hander started the fifth, giving up a leadoff double to Royce Clayton, then was pulled after walking Helton.

Germano, recalled on Monday, allowed four runs and seven hits and isn’t expected to miss a start.

Unfortunately for the Padres, their relievers couldn’t make up for the loss. One of San Diego’s strengths all season, the bullpen gave up four runs in the final four innings.

“We made a couple of mistakes with our execution,” Bochy said. “You can’t make mistakes at this time of the year.”

Piedra had three hits and scored four runs as a last-minute replacement for Jeromy Burnitz, and Clayton had three hits for Colorado. Helton had a run-scoring single in the third inning for Colorado’s first run and a two-run double—his 40th—in a three-run sixth.

Hernandez knocked in the first run with a single in the second inning and added sacrifice flies in the sixth and seventh.

Notes

Burnitz was scratched with two strained groins. … Helton walked once and has 110 this season, leaving him one short of the team record he set last year. … Padres 2B Mark Loretta was 1-for-5 after missing four games with a bruised knuckle. … Greene was 3-for-5 after entering the game in a 3-for-19 slump.

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