Padres ride power surge past Rox, win 3rd straight
By Beth Maiman and Jay Paris
SAN DIEGO -- After finishing the first half of the season fourth in the NL West with a disappointing 41-49 record, San Diego picked up its third straight win, defeating the Rockies, 4-2, at Petco Park on Friday night.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Justin Upton launched his 15th homer of the season to give the Padres a 4-2 lead heading into the ninth. Craig Kimbrel closed out the ninth, retiring three straight batters and earning his 24th save.
The bats came out early for the Padres, as they scored three runs in the first inning off Jorge De La Rosa. Matt Kemp sparked the scoring for San Diego with a homer to left center field. The 401-foot long ball was his ninth home run and only the third at Petco Park this season. After Upton reached first base on a catcher's interference call, Gyorko blasted a two-run shot to center to give the Padres a 3-0 lead.
Starting pitcher James Shields, who had not won a game in his last seven starts -- going 0-3 with a 4.79 ERA in that span -- pitched five innings, allowing seven hits, including one home run, walking four and striking out six.
The Rockies pulled to within 3-1 in the fifth inning on Charlie Blackmon's 12th homer of the season. Colorado made it 3-2 in the seventh, thanks to a throwing error by catcher Derek Norris on a steal attempt, but was held scoreless otherwise as it went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Second-half Kemp?: Kemp, who had a stellar second half season in 2014 and played well heading into the All-Star Game, had a solid day in his first game back from the break. He went 2-for-3 with a double, home run and a walk.
Wasted opportunity: Trailing 3-0, Colorado had a golden opportunity to get back in the game in the second with runners on the corners and one out. But Shields picked off Drew Stubbs at first and then struck out De La Rosa to end the threat.
Gotcha: The Rockies had the tying runs aboard in the fifth when Shields recorded another out, outside the batter's box. Shields attempted to pick off Troy Tulowitzki at third, but he was safe. But Yangervis Solarte fired the ball to Gyorko as Ben Paulsen broke for second when Shields threw to third. The result was a 1-5-4-3-6 putout to kill the rally.
Damage control: After a throwing error by catcher Norris, the Padres were able to get out of the seventh inning with two runners on base after a 6-4-3 double play.
"I mean, I didn't have my best stuff tonight. It was one of those games where you have to grind it out. I made pitches when I needed to and got out of jams when I needed to." -- Shields on earning his eighth win
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Padres are excited about hosting the first All-Star Game at Petco Park next summer, but it won't be the first Midsummer Classic in San Diego. Twice the game came to the Padres' former home, in 1978 and 1992, at what is now Qualcomm Stadium. In 1978, the Dodgers' Steve Garvey was named the game's MVP for the second time. In 1992, the Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. was selected the MVP with President George H. W. Bush in attendance.
In the seventh inning, Padres interim manager Pat Murphy challenged the call on the field that Blackmon was safe at first base after Brandon Maurer attempted a pick-off. The call was upheld, and the review took one minute and 50 seconds.
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: The Rockies send right-hander Chad Bettis to the mound in the middle game of the three-game series, with Saturday's first pitch at 6:40 p.m. MT. Bettis faces the Padres for the fourth time in his career, yet he hasn't recorded a decision. He has not allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings against San Diego, allowing five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts.
Padres:Tyson Ross will make his ninth career start against the Rockies at 5:40 p.m. PT. He has been solid in his last five starts, posting a 1.85 ERA. His last outing against Colorado was on April 23 and concluded in a loss when he allowed six hits, two runs and four walks in five innings.