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Rockies win fifth straight

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres finished the first week of the season headed in opposite directions.

The Rockies are in synch and soaring. With a lineup that was minus four regulars, Colorado pummeled San Diego 9-1 Sunday to sweep the teams' three-game series.

It was the Rockies' fifth straight victory, matching their longest winning streak of 2012 and leaving them with a 5-1 record.

"It's nice to get off to a good start, especially (since) last year was a tough year," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, referring to Colorado's franchise-record 98 losses in 2012. "It's nice to put some of those demons behind us right away. We felt all spring like we have a good club. A lot of people may not feel the same way on the outside, but we're very confident in the fact that we have a good club."

Meanwhile, the Padres, who have yet to play at home, fell to 1-5. Once again their offense was more culprit than contributor. The Padres have not scored more than three runs in any game and have been outscored 40-14. Their pitchers have a 6.43 ERA.

"We're not pitching well enough to overcome a lack of offense," Padres manager Bud Black said. "And our offense isn't scoring enough to help the pitching. Pretty simple."

The Rockies were again able to draw on power and starting pitching, hallmarks for them in the young season. Dexter Fowler hit a two-run homer in a three-run first inning, and Wilin Rosario iced the game with a three-run shot in the seventh. The Rockies have hit 13 homers this season -- 12 more than the Padres.

Just as he did Opening Day at Milwaukee on Monday, Jhoulys Chacin pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. The Rockies, whose rotation seemed questionable to outsiders entering the season, have received at least six innings from their starter in all but one game.

Chacin got 15 outs on ground balls, struck out two and got two outs on flyballs to the outfield. He threw his four-seam fastball and slider more at Milwaukee and went with his two-seam sinking fastball and changeup more against the Padres. Regardless, it was another strong start for Chacin after a disjointed spring when he had an 8.44 ERA in 16 Cactus League innings and left camp to compete for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

Asked the difference between his starts in spring and the regular season, Chacin said, "I think my focus. I don't worry about anything. Just make my pitch, get ground balls. Spring training, I wasn't throwing the ball down. All my pitches were up."

The Rockies quickly jumped on Edinson Volquez, who needed 33 pitches to get through the first inning. Eric Young Jr. led off with a double, and Fowler followed with his fourth homer of the season. Carlos Gonzalez doubled, and after Volquez retired the next two batters, Reid Brignac, staying back on an 84 mph changeup, blooped an opposite-field double to left-center.

The Rockies didn't score again until the sixth, Volquez's final inning, when Jonathan Herrera (3-for-4, triple, two RBIs), blooped an opposite-field single into left field, just fair. The hit scored Jordan Pacheco, who led off with a single and moved up on a sacrifice and a groundout. Volquez then got Chacin to fly out on his 102nd and final pitch.

"He steadied the ship, put up four zeros," Black said, "and they nicked him for that run in the sixth."

Chacin held the Padres scoreless until the fourth when Chris Denorfia doubled home a run with two outs. After retiring the first two batters in the seventh with Colorado ahead 4-1, Chacin gave up a single to Alexi Amarista and departed after 99 pitches to a loud ovation from the announced crowd of 31,060 at Coors Field.

"It was really nice," Chacin said. "You work hard for those moments. (They) just give you more energy."

Edgmer Escalona relieved Chacin and gave up a single to John Baker, sending Amarista to third and bringing up pinch hitter Carlos Quentin, who has been the Padres' best hitter this season. He grounded into an inning-ending fielder's choice.

The Rockies then broke the game open in the seventh. After Joe Thatcher gave up a one-out double to Fowler and Gonzalez walked, Anthony Bass came on in relief. Rosario drove Bass' 0-1 fastball into the left-field stands for his third homer.

The Rockies tacked on two more runs against Bass in the eighth, the runs scoring on Herrera's RBI triple followed by pinch hitter Yorvit Torrealba's single.

The Rockies' only other 5-1 start came in 1995, the franchise's third season, when they began 7-1. The Rockies made the playoffs that year as the wild-card team. And this year?

"We have very good players here," Gonzalez said. "We're doing our jobs and if we stay together and play that way we're going to be in a good position."

NOTES: The Colorado lineup included four reserves -- right fielder Young, first baseman Pacheco, second baseman Brignac and shortstop Herrera. Weiss said rest and recovery for the regulars factored into his decision along with keeping everybody involved. ... Weiss said he thought about including Michael Cuddyer in his lineup until the right fielder reported Sunday with soreness in his left wrist. Cuddyer rolled the wrist trying to make a diving catch in the eighth inning Saturday night. ... Black said pitcher Clayton Richard, who is scheduled to start the home opener Tuesday, had a side session Sunday that was "very intense" and said Richard felt good and was "turning it loose." In his first start against the Mets in New York, Richard gave eight runs, seven earned, on seven hits, including three homers, and two walks in 4 1/3 innings during an 8-4 loss. Black said Richard was unable to get loose in New York, but during Sunday's bullpen session, Richard had arm strength and arm speed and threw well. ... The Padres' only homer of the season came from Yonder Alonso on Opening Day. ... Black's lineup included six left-handed hitters among the eight position players. Left-handed hitters had a .255 lifetime average and .350 on-base percentage against Chacin compared to .221 and .303 for right-handed batters.
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