Rockies 13, Padres 2
DENVER (AP)—Jeff Francis has moved quickly through Colorado’s farm system, finding success at each stop. Now he’s doing it in the big leagues—at Coors Field, no less.
“I thought he showed tremendous poise out there again,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
Particularly in the first inning.
Francis (2-2) pitched 5 1-3 scoreless in a 5-2 win over the Padres last Sunday, his first career victory, but didn’t seem to have the same kind of stuff working early in this one.
But what could have been a big inning amounted to just one run. Francis made a nice play to hold Loretta at third and still get a double play on a comebacker, then struck out Rich Aurilia to end the inning.
Getting out of the jam seemed to spark Francis, who allowed just one more hit until Greene led off the fifth inning with his 15th homer to cut Colorado’s lead to 5-2. The rookie left-hander was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom half after giving up two runs and five hits.
“I just came in trying to do the things that have made me successful: throwing strikes and keeping the ball down, and not rushing, not trying to do too much,” Francis said. “I think it worked out good.”
Francis was just one of several obstacles the Padres couldn’t overcome in what could be their most disheartening loss of the season.
Greene homered twice and has four in three games, but the rest of the Padres were flat at a time when they need to be playing their best.
Adam Eaton had trouble from the start and the Padres lost for the eighth time in 11 games—their fourth in a week to the fourth-place Rockies—and dropped 2 1/2 games back in the NL wild-card standings.
“This shouldn’t happen this time of the year,” Padres center fielder Jay Payton said. “Every loss hurts and we know we have to win almost every game.”
Eaton (9-13) was shaky right away.
Mark Sweeney led off the first inning with a double, moved to third on Luis Gonzalez’s sacrifice and scored on Todd Helton’s single. Eaton also walked Jeromy Burnitz, but got a pair of strikeouts to end it.
But, unlike Francis, Eaton couldn’t gather himself.
He gave up three runs in the third inning on Vinny Castilla’s two-run double and a sacrifice fly by Holliday, and another in the fourth on Gonzalez’s RBI single. Barmes’ bloop single in the fifth inning knocked in another run and Sweeney followed with an RBI single that made it 7-2.
Eaton was pulled for a pinch hitter the next inning after giving up seven runs and a career-high 12 hits in five innings.
“Eaton had buzzard’s luck,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “Not many hard hit balls, but a lot that found holes.”
But it wasn’t just Eaton.
His replacement, Mike Bynum, walked the bases loaded in the sixth inning and was pulled without getting in out. Holliday and Barmes followed with a pair of two-run doubles off Steve Watkins to push the lead to 11-2.
The Rockies finished with a season-high for hits in a nine-inning game, one short of their total in a 12-inning game against Pittsburgh on May 11. It also was the most San Diego had allowed this season.
Garrett Atkins hit his first career homer, a two-run shot in the seventh inning, Barmes was 3-for-5 and every position player had a hit for Colorado, which has won seven of 10—all against teams still in the playoff race.
Colorado’s bullpen even pitched well, a rarity of late. Three relievers combined to allow just two hits in four innings after the bullpen had blown four straight saves, including one in a 10-4 loss Friday night.
“We needed to show up big today after the game getting away from us last night and our team showed up well today,” Hurdle said.
Castilla has 997 career RBIs. … Players had trouble with the sun all game. CF Burnitz was called for an error after losing a ball second inning and Colorado’s Todd Greene got a double in the fifth when Giles couldn’t find a ball in right. … Helton walked three times and has 113 for the season, breaking the team record of 111 he set last year. … Eaton is 1-4 against Colorado this season. His previous high for hits allowed was 11, mostly recently against Florida on Aug. 21.
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