Ubaldo tabs 14th as Rox escape with victory

Ubaldo tabs 14th as Rox escape with victory

SAN DIEGO -- Never did it cross the mind of Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez that his start Monday night would feature 16 runs and 21 hits. After all, they were playing at PETCO Park, and Jimenez had every right to not expect some of that damage to come against him.

But Jimenez, who had a no-hitter through five innings and withstood a four-run Padres sixth, could accept the odd result with a smile. The Rockies hit four home runs and scored the most runs against the Padres at their home this season in a 10-6 victory.

"It doesn't happen often here, but we have had a couple of games like that, where we've shown signs that we'll be able to hit," said Jimenez (14-1), the first pitcher to go 14-1 in 15 starts since the Braves' John Smoltz in 1996 -- and the first pitcher to win 14 of his first 16 starts since Pedro Martinez went 14-2 in '99.

The stats of individual brilliance, however, are merely background in an important series during a big stretch. Colorado narrowed its distance from National League West-leading San Diego to five games. Monday began a stretch during which six of the Rockies' final 13 games before the All-Star break are against the Padres. Four others are with the contending Giants and three are against the Cardinals, who are just a half-game out in the NL Central.

Jimenez still struck out seven in six innings, and his ERA is still a minuscule 1.83. The Rockies are now 12-0 and Jimenez is 11-0 in starts after the team loses. But in his past two starts, the story was an offense that picked up for the ace when he fell into trouble.

Carlos Gonzalez and Miguel Olivo knocked two-run homers off Kevin Correia (5-6) in the first and fifth inning, respectively, and Olivo had a two-run double in the third. Ryan Spilborghs added another two-run homer in the sixth off Sean Gallagher to give Jimenez an 8-0 lead.

Like in his prior start, when he couldn't hold a four-run lead against the Red Sox and ran into a no-decision, Jimenez ran into trouble and needed a bailout from the bats. Victory wasn't assured until Seth Smith opened the ninth with a homer off Edward Mujica and Jonathan Herrera singled in a run -- extending his hit streak to 10 games -- later in the inning.

"When the game started tonight, I wasn't anticipating the final score to be 10-6," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. "But a lot of credit to our offense. We took some great at-bats tonight.

"You hit four home runs in this ballpark, and two of them to right field, you've done some hitting."

Before falling behind the dangerous Padres and having to challenge them with fastballs when they were expecting it, Jimenez looked better than he did during his no-hitter at Atlanta on April 17.

"I thought today he was going to throw a no-hitter again," Olivo said. "He was nasty."

Jimenez fanned five in the first three innings and didn't give up a hit until David Eckstein singled, behind a walk to Tony Gwynn Jr., in the sixth. Chase Headley added an RBI single with one out and Scott Hairston hit a three-run homer to cut it to 8-4.

"This year, he's put it together throwing strikes with all his pitches, but tonight, in the middle part of the game, it left him," said Padres manager Bud Black.

Adrian Gonzalez added an RBI single off reliever Joe Beimel and Hairston doubled in a run against Matt Belisle, both in the seventh. Belisle ended the threat by coaxing a Nick Hundley grounder with the bases loaded.

Monday marked the third time in six games that the Rockies exceeded seven runs in a contest.

"It's hard to get every offensive player to be good on the same night," said Smith, who is in a three-way tie with Gonzalez and Olivo for the team home run lead with 11.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.