DENVER (AP)—The Colorado Rockies needed a pick-me-up in the worst way.
Hawpe followed with a two-run, 418-foot shot off Cla Meredith that sent San Diego to its fourth straight loss.
“That was a good finish for us tonight,” said manager Clint Hurdle, still noticeably somber over the death 24 hours earlier of minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh, who was hit in the head by a line drive during a Double-A game in Arkansas.
Taylor Buchholz (5-3) pitched two shutout innings for the win.
Linebrink hit pinch-hitter Cory Sullivan and walked Kaz Matsui before Holliday sent a 1-1 change-up into the left-center seats, tying the game at 5 and taking Jeff Francis off the hook for his first loss since June 8 at Baltimore.
“I was trying to put Sullivan away with a fastball. Instead, I hit him and then I walked Matsui. You don’t want to start innings like that,” said Linebrink, who gave up four runs in 2-3 of an inning. “Then, I left a pitch up to Holliday and he hit it out. It was a change-up high in the zone. He notoriously doesn’t hit change-ups.
“You can’t give free bases like this, not here.”
Hawpe sent Meredith’s low-and-away slider into the left-field power alley.
“I would normally take the blame for giving up a home run, but this time I won’t,” Meredith said. “I tried to go low and away and that’s where the pitch was. He went down and got it. Brad put a charge into one and hit it a long ways. That wasn’t a bad pitch.”
Backed by Milton Bradley’s third homer and Kevin Kouzmanoff’s 10th, Maddux left with a 5-2 lead after six spectacular innings in which he yielded two runs and five hits with no walks and two strikeouts.
Maddux also added a single and stole the 10th base of his 22-year major league career.
“I got a good pitch to run on,” Maddux shrugged.
It was the second straight start in which Maddux left with a sizable lead but didn’t get the win. In his last start, he pitched five scoreless innings and left with a 4-0 lead but the New York Mets tied the game in the eighth on David Wright’s three-run homer, also off Linebrink. The Padres won that game, 5-4.
Before the game, the Rockies held a moment of silence to honor Coolbaugh, who was killed by a line drive Sunday night in Little Rock, Ark., while coaching first base for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers.
Coolbaugh joined the Drillers on July 3, and Hurdle chatted with him the next day about balancing the demands of baseball and family. Coolbaugh left behind two young boys and a pregnant wife.
Bradley broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth when he sent a curveball from Francis 365 feet over the left-field corner for his third homer of the year.
The Rockies got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning on Yorvit Torrealba’s fielder’s choice grounder, but Kouzmanoff’s homer that traveled an estimated 430 feet into the rock pile in center field in the sixth made it 5-2.
Francis gave up five earned runs and 10 hits with one walk in six innings.
The Rockies tied it at 1 in the second when they ended two ignominious streaks on Garrett Atkins’ run-scoring single.
They hadn’t scored in 21 innings and were coming off a dismal four-game series at Washington in which they went 0-for-28 with runners in scoring position, becoming the first team to go an entire series with that many hitless at-bats since Montreal in 1991.
They were even-keeled after the game, their first against a division opponent since May 27, but Hawpe said the Rockies, who have hovered around .500 all season, realize this is their time to make a run.
“The clock’s ticking. Sand’s running out,” he said. “We’ve got to play good and be able to beat teams like that if we’re going to be the team we want to be.”
Maddux’s last swipe of a base came Sept. 30, for the Dodgers against the Giants. … Francis is 9-1 in 15 starts since May 7.