DENVER (AP)—Nolan Arenado won the game with his walk-off homer and saved it time after time with his work at the hot corner.
So, as Joe Thatcher the reliever who gave up the game-winning homer, succinctly surmised, “Tonight was his night.”
Indeed, it was.
The 22-year-old rookie sent a 1-1 fastball from Thatcher (2-1) over the wall in left field. Arenado sauntered around the bases and then tossed his batting helmet as he rounded third base. He was mobbed by teammates once he stomped on home plate.
“It was cool,” Arenado said. “Hit a couple in the minor leagues. Hitting one up here is special.”
But his homer was only part of the story. He made one diving snare after another, including one that ended a bases-loaded threat in the seventh to keep the game tied. That play was what had everyone talking.
“The home run is going to be the one on the highlights,” said Matt Belisle (4-2), who pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win. “To see him get a big hit like that, you’re just so happy for the kid.
“Defensively, he was stellar. Hopefully, he’s going to feel real good tomorrow and keep it rolling.”
Carlos Gonzalez had two triples and drove in three runs before leaving with a left knee injury in the seventh. Dexter Fowler returned to the lineup after sitting out with a migraine and finished with three hits, while Todd Helton drove in three runs.
The Padres trailed by six runs early in the game and 9-4 heading into the seventh, before rallying for five runs. Chase Headley began the inning when he was hit by Rob Scahill possibly as retaliation for when starter Edinson Volquez plunked Troy Tulowitzki in the second.
“Just got away from me,” Scahill said after the game.
That was all for Scahill, who faced five batters and gave up five runs without getting an out. Everth Cabrera tied it when he beat out an infield single.
After Headley—batting for a second time in the inning—struck out with the bases loaded, Quentin laced a liner to third. Arenado snared it and threw a strike to first to end the inning.
“Defense is a big part of my game,” Arenado said. “A lot of people didn’t think I could play defense. It’s funny, I’ve been showing more of my defense than my bat lately.”
Gonzalez wasn’t around for the finish after slipping in the sixth when he was trying to scramble out of the batter’s box. He gingerly ran down the line before limping into the dugout. He trotted out to left to start the seventh, only to be replaced by Jonathan Herrera on a double-switch.
Michael Cuddyer usually would’ve gone in, but he’s sidelined with a rib strain.
Gonzalez downplayed his injury, saying the knee has been bothering him since spring training.
“It’s all right. Just sore,” he said. “Right now, I feel good.”
After scoring three times off Volquez in the first, Colorado broke open the game with a five-run second—a big inning set up by another debatable call at first base.
Fowler put down a one-out bunt and appeared to be out by a step, only to have first-base umpire Jim Joyce rule him safe. Gonzalez followed with a two-run triple. Soon after, Helton, Arenado and Yorvit Torrealba added RBI singles.
The night before, the Padres scored the go-ahead run in the 12th when pinch hitter Yasmani Grandal was called safe at first on his bases-loaded fielder’s choice grounder. Replays seemed to indicate he was out by a step.
Blanks, who nearly didn’t join the Padres in Denver for this series, had a big game for San Diego, hitting a two-run homer in the second and adding a run-scoring single in the fifth.
With Maybin set to come off the disabled list, the Padres were planning to send Blanks to the minors. Instead, Yonder Alonso went on the DL with a bruised right hand and Blanks had to catch a plane to the Mile High City.
Jorge De La Rosa didn’t have his best stuff and he surrendered four runs and 11 hits in five shaky innings.
Volquez never got on track, giving up career highs in runs (9) and hits (11) while lasting just 2 1-3 innings. He was let off the hook for the loss with the Padres’ late surge.
“It was tough. That’s the first time that’s happened to me in my whole career,” Volquez said. “I’ve got to be able to make adjustments, throw quality pitches.”
Fowler returned to the field after dealing with horrible headaches that had him pulling the shades down inside his house. He even had a CAT scan just to be safe and said everything checked out fine.
“Every time I put my head down, I thought I was going to pass out,” Fowler said.
NOTES: Headley left late in the game with tightness in his right calf. … The Padres will send LHP Eric Stults (4-5) to the mound on Saturday. The Rockies haven’t announced a replacement for RHP Tyler Chatwood who has a triceps injury. The top candidate to fill in appears to be LHP Jeff Francis who’s eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. Francis said his groin injury is 100 percent. … It was the Rockies’ fifth walk-off win of the season. … The Padres outhit the Rockies, 17-16. … Colorado has won seven of eight over the Padres this season.