DENVER -- The sample size is still small, minute really. But the Colorado Rockies, whose rotation seemed suspect to outsiders, are getting good starting pitching.
Jon Garland made his Rockies debut on Saturday night and pitched six innings as Colorado beat the San Diego Padres 6-3 for its fourth straight victory.
It was the fourth time in five games this season that the Rockies have gotten at least six innings from their starter.
The four-game winning streak left them one shy of their 2012 high. The Rockies won five straight games twice -- May 28-June 1 and Aug. 19-23 -- high points in a season that ended with a franchise-record 98 losses.
The Rockies signed Garland in late March to add a veteran to a rotation that is young and had three starters returning from injuries. Knowing Garland is a sinker-ball pitcher, the Rockies thought he could handle the challenge of pitching at Coors Field, which he did against the Padres.
He got 12 outs on ground balls, including a double-play ball with runners on first and third to end the fourth when he gave up his only run, and was efficient, needing just 75 pitches to get the game to the seventh.
Michael Cuddyer, who had three hits and three RBIs, lined a two-run homer over the fence in right field in the seventh. It was the second homer for Cuddyer and the 11th this season for the Rockies, who have homered in every game.
The Rockies scored a run in the first off Tyson Ross, who made his Padres debut, and three more in the fifth on a walk, an error and three consecutive singles off reliever Brad Brach. He took over after Ross faced the first two batters of the inning and left after throwing 96 pitches.
The Padres, who began the season in New York against the Mets, lost for the fourth time in five games. They had scored four runs in their first four games and reached a modest season-high in runs with their third run in the eighth. It came with two out against Rex Brothers when Cuddyer made an unsuccessful dive for a short fly to right by Jedd Gyroko that got past him for a run-scoring double.
The hit scored Chris Denorfia, who led off the inning with a pinch-double. But Brothers struck out pinch-hitter Cody Ransom to end the eighth.
Rafael Betancourt posted his third save. He gave up a two-out single to pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay but got Everth Cabrera to ground out to end the game.
In his Padres debut, Ross left after facing two batters in the fifth, done in more by a pitch count that reached 96 than the Rockies' hitters.
Ross walked Dexter Fowler to open the inning and Cabrera was charged with an error at short, his second of the series, trying to backhand Josh Rutledge's grounder. Brach relieved Ross, and Carlos Gonzalez looped his first pitch into short right center to put the Rockies ahead 2-1.
Troy Tulowitzki followed with a run-scoring single but took too big a turn around first and was thrown out. Cuddyer singled to give the Rockies a 4-1 lead.
Garland pitched in the big leagues for the first time since June 1, 2011, with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He injured his shoulder in that game, underwent surgery the following month and missed the entire 2012 season.
Garland went to camp this spring with the Mariners and had a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings. But Garland opted out of his contract when he didn't make Seattle's rotation and signed with the Rockies on March 26.
Garland allowed two hits through three scoreless innings before wading into trouble in the fourth.
Quentin led off with a double to right center and moved to third when Yonder Alonso flared a single to short left. Garland walked Gyroko on four pitches. He got Alexi Amarista to hit into a fielder's choice on a slow grounder to Tulowitzki at short and Quentin scored to tie it at 1. Garland then got Cameron Maybin to ground to Rutledge, who started a double play on Garland's 50th pitch.
Meanwhile, Ross' pitch count was rising after a 34-pitch first when he managed to give up just one run. After Cuddyer's run-scoring single, Todd Helton, batting with runners on second and third, battled Ross for 11 pitches, fouling off six of them, before grounding to first.
Ross was acquired in a four-player November trade with Oakland. He struck out Fowler with a full-count change-up to end the second with a runner on third base.
NOTES: In a money-saving move, the Rockies traded catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Dodgers for pitcher Aaron Harang and cash considerations and then designated Harang for assignment. Hernandez, whose salary is $3.2 million this year, lost out to Yorvit Torrealba as the backup catcher. Harang's salary is $7 million this year and the Dodgers reportedly will pay $4.25 million to the Rockies, who have 10 days to trade Harang and intend to do so, thus saving about $1 million. Harang, who turns 35 on May 9, is a fly-ball pitcher who doesn't profile well at Coors Field. ... The Rockies will start their Sunday home games at 2:10 p.m. MDT, one hour later than past seasons. In the past two seasons, the Rockies have gone 11-41 on Sunday, including a major-league record 17 consecutive losses in 2011. Bill Geivett, the Rockies' senior director of major-league operations, said the change was made to give Rockies players more time for rest and recovery after Saturday night games and to allow fans to have more time to do things Sunday morning before coming to the game. ... Fowler has hit safely in all five of the Rockies' games. He extended his streak with a first-inning single. Gyroko, who went hitless in four at-bats with three strikeouts on Friday, broke an 0-for -6 string with a single in the second. ... Padres manager Bud Black's daughter, Jessie, is a junior at the University of Maryland, where she competes in gymnastics on the uneven bars. Maryland is in an NCAA Regional at the University of Florida, and before batting practice, Black watched Gator Vision, which is Florida's web site, on his computer in his office as the Maryland team was individually introduced. But he wasn't going to be able to see his daughter in the meet.