Rockies gain in races behind Tulo's huge day

Rockies gain in races behind Tulo's huge day

DENVER -- It would be romantic and poetic and all that jazz to say Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki willed the Rockies to victory Wednesday afternoon. Manager Jim Tracy did.

"You could tell from the first at-bat that he took, 'We're not losing today -- I'm not going to let us lose,'" Tracy said.

Tulowitzki hit two three-run homers -- his third multihomer game in his last eight -- and matched a career high with seven RBIs in a 9-6 victory over the Padres at Coors Field.

Tulowitzki, who began his day with a run-scoring single in the first inning, also picked up seven RBIs on Aug. 10, 2009, when he hit for the cycle against the Cubs. It seems as if Tulowitzki can do anything. But make a team win just by sheer force of will? He won't cop to that.

"I wish I could control that," Tulowitzki said. "I have confidence that I can be that guy, but the game's not that easy.

Tulowitzki made it look that way as the Rockies avoided being swept in three games by the National League West-leading Padres, improved to 2 1/2 games off the division pace and pulled to 2 1/2 behind the Wild Card-leading Braves. The Rox are two games behind the Giants, who are positioned between them and first place in the division and the Wild Card. The Giants beat the Dodgers, 2-1, on Wednesday night in San Francisco.

Sept. 3SD41112
Sept. 4SD52200
Sept. 5SD32112
Sept. 6CIN51213
Sept. 7CIN40000
Sept. 8CIN42324
Sept. 9CIN32111
Sept. 10ARZ34323
Sept. 11ARZ40000
Sept. 12ARZ40100
Sept. 13SD41113
Sept. 14SD40100
Sept. 15SD52327
TOTALS13 games5217191125

"You get swept at home by San Diego, a team that you're chasing, you're in trouble," Tulowitzki said. "Today was really a must-win game. You don't ever like to drop that on games, but if we've had one this season, today was the must-win game."

The Padres' three-game series in Denver was the beginning of a 10-game trip that includes four games against the contending Cardinals and three against the Dodgers.

Magnifying the importance of Wednesday was the Rockies' six-game road trip that starts Friday, with ace and Cy Young Award candidate Ubaldo Jimenez opening a three-game series with the Dodgers. The Rockies visit the D-backs starting Monday. The Rockies are 29-42 away from Coors, but swept the Padres on their last trip. The Rockies are 2-4 at Dodger Stadium and at Chase Field.

Tulowitzki went 3-for-5 with three-run homers off Clayton Richard (12-8) in the third inning and Edward Mujica in the fourth. His 11 home runs in September are one shy of the club record for a month, and he has 13 games to play before the calendar turns. The Rockies went 8-2 on the just-completed homestand, as Tulowitzki hit .375 (15-for-40) with nine home runs and 21 RBIs.

The Rockies who have gone deep a dozen times in a month are Vinny Castilla (June 1996 and July '98), Dante Bichette (August '95) Andres Galarraga (August '96) and Matt Holliday (September 2007).

"I'm just hot right now and continually trying to remind myself to enjoy this while it lasts because it's not going to last forever," said Tulowitzki, who has 23 homers despite having missed 33 games with a fractured left wrist that limited his power for weeks after his return.

But there seems to be no end to the hot streaks of Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, and therefore no end to the club's postseason hopes. Gonzalez drove in the Rockies' other two runs on a 2-for-4 day and lifted his NL-leading batting average to .341.

"You can't fall behind those guys like that," Richard said. "Between [Tulowitzki] and Gonzo, it would be hard to find two guys hitting the ball as well as they are."

The Rockies are 18-6 since Aug. 22. In that period, Gonzalez has hit .456 (41-for-90) with seven home runs and 27 RBIs, and Tulowitzki has hit .353 (30-for-85) with nine homers and 29 RBIs. The Rockies needed to be carried by strong guys. Wednesday completed a stretch of 20 games without a day off.

On a day when leadoff hitter Eric Young Jr. went 2-for-4 and No. 2 hitter Jonathan Herrera went 3-for-4, the big guns in the middle of the order piled up the stats.

"[It's like] the Cardinals' situation with [Albert] Pujols and Holliday -- pick your poison," Tracy said. "Not to say you're going to be right, but go ahead."

The two-man offensive show maximized the pitching of left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (8-4). The Rockies have won his last five starts, but none were as important as Wednesday's. Key bullpen members Matt Belisle, Matt Reynolds and Esmil Rogers were taxed because of short work by starters in previous outings, so De La Rosa's 7 1/3 innings were key.

De La Rosa gave up five runs -- two of which crossed when Adrian Gonzalez hit his second homer of the game and 29th of the season, for three runs, as soon as reliever Joe Beimel entered. De La Rosa held the Padres to six hits and struck out seven.

"I knew I had to go more than five or six innings when I started the game because the bullpen was worked too much in the last few days," said De La Rosa, who yielded Gonzalez's solo shot in the sixth.

Rafael Betancourt replaced Beimel and struck out Ryan Ludwick and Jerry Hairston Jr. to end the eighth, and Huston Street struck out two in the ninth for his 19th save.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Keep track of @harding_at_mlb on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.