DENVER (AP)—After a disappointing loss the night before, the San Diego Padres needed a big play to help them make up ground in the NL wild-card race.
Rookie Khalil Greene provided one, just like he has all year.
Ryan Klesko hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Greene put San Diego ahead to stay with a three-run shot in the seventh, lifting the Padres to a 10-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
“Defensively, offensively, he’s a ballplayer,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said of Greene. “I’ve moved him all over the order and nothing fazes him. He just goes out there and plays. He’s one of those guys who can have a great game if he doesn’t get a hit.”
Known for his defense, Greene did it with his hitting this time.
After starter Brian Lawrence kept the Padres close for six innings, Greene provided the big blow, lining Tim Harikkala’s pitch over the wall in left to put the Padres up 6-4. San Diego added four more in the ninth inning off Chris Gissell to move within 1 1/2 games of the wild-card lead.
This after giving up two late runs in a 9-7 loss to the Rockies the night before.
“At this point, every game is big,” Greene said. “There’s hardly any room for error. We need to win games at this point. We’re trying to remind ourselves that there’s some sense of urgency without pressing.”
Colorado got another quality outing from a starter and another terrible one from its bullpen.
Starter Shawn Estes pitched well enough to win, only to see the bullpen throw it away for the third straight night. Harikkala (6-4) walked the first batter he faced in the seventh inning, then gave up Greene’s three-run homer. Gissell was even worse, giving up four runs before getting his second out.
But then that’s nothing new for the Rockies. They’ve blown a league-high 29 saves and lost two of the past three games after losing late leads.
“I don’t think we’re pitching very well,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re just not hitting spots at all.”
Lawrence (14-12) did his best to keep the Padres in it despite some shaky moments.
He wasn’t so fortunate in the fifth inning.
J.D. Closser led off with a single, then scored from first on Garrett Atkins’ double to the corner in left. Atkins moved to third on Estes’ sacrifice bunt, and Aaron Miles cut San Diego’s lead to 3-2 with a sacrifice fly.
Lawrence was lifted for a pinch-hitter the next inning, leaving after giving up four runs and eight hits. It wasn’t a great outing by any stretch, but he at least went out with the lead after Greene hit his 13th homer—second in two games.
“By coming in here and doing my best to keep us in the game, then at least we have a chance to win,” Lawrence said.
One bad pitch cost Estes in the first inning.
With two outs and an 0-2 count, the left-hander bounced a pitch that hit Jay Payton. Phil Nevin followed with a single, then Klesko lifted a flyball to left that carried out for a three-run homer, his eighth of the season.
Just like that, Estes had given up more runs than in his last start, an 8-2 victory over the Padres on Saturday. He didn’t let it bother him.
Estes stuck to his plan, using his fastball and a big-breaking curveball that the Padres kept pounding into the dirt. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the fourth inning and got 11 groundball outs in 6 1-3 innings, leaving after giving up four runs and six hits.
“I just made one bad pitch to Klesko and in this ballpark that hurts,” said Estes, who had a sore leg after being hit on a comebacker by Lawrence in the fourth inning. “Other than that we did a good job of battling back.”
Estes made his 30th start of the season, the fourth time in his career he’s reached that mark, but the first since 2000. … Strong winds in the third inning filled the stadium with dust and swirling papers, causing Estes to step off the mound twice. Light rain fell after that, but the game wasn’t delayed. … San Diego is 5-2 at Coors Field this season.