SAN DIEGO -- With a straight face Tuesday night, Padres interim manager Pat Murphy insisted that you haven't seen the best from rookie pitcher Colin Rea.
And, yes, that included the seven scoreless innings he tossed in a no-decision, in which the Padres pushed across a run in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 2-1 victory over the Rockies at Petco Park.
"He still hasn't touched his best stuff in terms of command, even his best velocity or offspeed stuff," Murphy said. "It bodes well for the future."
Forget the future, as the 25-year-old Rea -- making his sixth Major League start Tuesday -- was plenty good against the Rockies' formidable lineup.
Rea allowed two hits over a career-high seven innings with three walks and four strikeouts.
That's not to say his night was perfect.
In fact, Rea was behind in the count several times early in the game, walking two batters in the second inning and another in the third inning.
"It was tough to kind of find a rhythm," Rea said. "… I felt my stuff was OK, but my command was a little off. It was one of those things where, if I was behind in the count, I would step off and refocus and went back to square one."
Rea, who lowered his ERA to 4.26, benefited from several fine defensive plays -- like the 6-3 double play shortstop Jedd Gyorko turned to end the fourth inning after a leadoff single by Justin Morneau.
In the seventh inning with two outs and the Padres up 1-0, Ben Paulsen drove a ball to the gap in left-center field that speedy center fielder Travis Jankowski tracked down -- much like he did for Rea when they were teammates in Triple-A El Paso earlier this season.
"I knew right away when I saw him running after it … he was going to get it," Rea said.
To be sure, Rea's first six starts have offered a little of everything. The highs of his first big league start, his first hit and victory, all coming on the same night. He's also been hit hard at times. But the last time out he held the Dodgers to two runs over five innings.
On Tuesday, he was even better.
"Seven innings of shutout against that lineup, however you slice it, only two hits, it is a remarkable pitching performance," Murphy said. "All rookie pitchers go through the ups and downs, but this kid just continues to get better and better.
"If you told me before the game he's going to throw seven shutout [innings], I'd be pretty shocked, against a lineup like this."
Rea's command might not have been as sharp Tuesday, and his velocity is still not where it was during his time in the Minor Leagues earlier this season, though he's not dwelling on it. If anything, he's pitching in the true sense of the word.
"Perseverance, that's exactly it, just keep battling," Rea said. "I was relying on the defense tonight. When you don't have your best stuff, you just can't throw it down the middle and give into the hitter. You got to rely on your team."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.