Two-run first all Padres need to edge Rockies

Two-run first all Padres need to edge Rockies

SAN DIEGO -- Padres starter James Shields held down a hot Rockies offense by forcing three key double-play grounders over six solid innings to make a two-run first inning stand in a 2-1 victory at Petco Park on Monday night.

"It was a good win overall,'' Shields said. "Our defense today was impeccable. I got the ground balls I needed when I needed to and we turned the double plays that got me out of a couple of innings.''

Padres turn three key double plays

Matt Kemp's two-run double in the first was all the Padres could manage against Rockies rookie Jon Gray, who proceeded to strike out a career-high 11 in six innings. He gave up four hits and walked one.

But Shields stayed a step ahead of the Rockies with his diverse pitch mix. He used his changeup against left-handed batters on all three of the double-play grounders -- from Carlos Gonzalez to end the first, Ben Paulsen to end the second and Gerardo Parra in the fourth. Shields struck out five and pitched around nine hits.

"The guys made some great turns out there for us,'' Padres manager Andy Green said.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss said his team saw its win streak end at three games in part because of being stubborn offensively.

"I was disappointed in us tonight offensively," Weiss said. "I just felt we didn't do a very good job of making in-game adjustments. Shields is not going to give in, in fastball counts. He stays soft."

Gray, the third overall pick in the 2013 Draft, made nine starts last year and three this year and still hasn't earned his first Major League win, but it's hard to pitch the way he did Monday and stay winless.

"The way it felt tonight to go through hitters and innings that quick was something I hadn't done in a while," said Gray, who put some of the poor offensive execution on himself because he didn't execute two bunt situations. "It really felt good. I can work off of that the next outing."

Shields' aggressiveness pays off: After going winless in his first five starts, Shields finally cracked the win column with a strong performance. The veteran gave up nine hits, but in his mind, he didn't pitch that much differently than his previous outings.

Shields notches his first win

"It feels good, but I feel for the most part I have pitched well all season," said Shields. "I'm just trying to stay consistent." More >

Element of unpleasant surprise: In the fifth with runners at first and second, two out, a 2-0 count and Gonzalez up against Shields (a guy against whom he had a .360 batting average going into Monday), the last thing on anyone's mind was DJ LeMahieu trying to steal third.

Norris throws out LeMahieu

But LeMahieu took off and Padres catcher Derek Norris -- with a clear throwing lane because Gonzalez is a left-handed hitter -- easily made the throw to end the threat.

"I was just overthinking the situation and got a bad jump, and just took us right out of an inning," LeMahieu said. "Not the smartest baseball there, for sure." More >

Getting mad, then getting ahead: In three starts since being activated from an abdominal strain, Gray has yielded eight first-inning runs. But his first start, a 10-strikeout, no-decision against the Dodgers, and Monday's showed that he dials in after early trouble. After Kemp's two-run double, the right-hander touched 97 mph during a walk to Brett Wallace. But for the rest of his outing, he reached 97 when he needed, and the Padres struggled to make contact.

Gray fans 11 in six innings

"I was just looking forward to the next guy. That's all I can do," Gray said. "I made a few corrections that kind of let me get downhill and attack the zone." More >

Rally strikes out: Rockies pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn drew a one-out walk in the seventh, allowing the tying run to reach base with the top of the order coming up. But reliever Ryan Buchter fanned Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story to maintain the Padres' 2-1 lead.

Buchter strikes out four

Two in one: The Padres scored twice in the first to take a 2-0 advantage when Kemp doubled down the third-base line after Jon Jay and Wil Myers opened the inning with singles. Gray walked Wallace, but he wiggled from the jam by striking out Alexei Ramirez and Norris and getting Jemile Weeks to fly out.

"It was nice for the guys to give me a 2-0 lead right out of the gate.'' -- Shields, on getting some rare support from the Padres' offense

"He has so many pitches. He has a good fastball and a cutter, and he commanded all of them. So he kept you off everything tonight." -- Paulsen, on why Rockies hitters couldn't just sit on Shields' changeup

Rockies catcher Nick Hundley, who played much of his career with the Padres, went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI double He is 17-for-38 (.447) against his former team.

Weiss challenged a double play in the fourth inning, but there wasn't sufficient evidence to change the call that Parra didn't beat the throw to first base.

Weeks' double play challenged

Rockies: Righty Eddie Butler (0-0, 3.86 ERA) was called up Wednesday and made a solid 2 1/3-inning, one-run relief appearance against the Pirates that allowed the Rockies to climb back into an eventual 9-8 loss in extra innings. He'll face the Padres on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. MT.

Padres: Andrew Cashner (1-2, 4.94 ERA) tries to rebound from his worst start of the season when facing the Rockies on Tuesday in the second contest of the three-game series. Cashner lasted but 2 2/3 innings in Wednesday's loss at San Francisco. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. PT.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Jay Paris is a contributor for based in San Diego and covered the Padres on Monday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.