DENVER -- Rockies starter Jon Gray set a club record with 16 strikeouts -- including a club-record six straight in the second and third innings -- and catcher Tom Murphy led the Colorado offense with two home runs and five RBIs as the Rockies took care of the Padres, 8-0, on Saturday at Coors Field.
Gray threw his first career shutout -- and complete game -- with extraordinary dominance. He struck out four in the second inning -- Jon Jay reached on a passed ball -- and punched out the first two batters to start the next inning. The right-hander allowed four hits and walked none, while no Padres baserunner made it past first base.
"He was really good," said Padres first baseman Wil Myers, who whiffed twice. "Great slider. Like I said, I think his fastball made the slider better tonight with how well he commanded both sides of the plate. It's the best I've seen him throw. I obviously know he's got a lot of upside, and tonight it showed."
Gray had never pitched more than 7 1/3 innings in his Major League career and hadn't thrown a complete game since he threw two in college at Oklahoma. Now over a year since he was first called up last August, Gray feels like he's become an entirely new pitcher.
"It's night and day difference," Gray said. "I feel like I belong out there this year. I tell myself that I'm here for a reason, and it's because I'm good. So why not show off what you've got."
The Rockies got all the offense they needed in the first against Padres starter Edwin Jackson. Nolan Arenado reclaimed the National League home run lead with his 38th of the year, a two-run shot that traveled 444 feet, landing in the left-field concourse. Two batters later, Murphy doubled the lead with a two-run homer of his own, and he made it his first multi-homer game in the fifth with a three-run homer.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Return of the Slider: In his last start, which was also against the Padres, Gray didn't have his usual excellent slider. He ended up throwing it 11 times in his 85 pitches, less than half as often as his usual 26.3 percent. On Saturday, however, the good slider returned, as he used the pitch to notch 12 of his 16 strikeouts.
"It was pretty special," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "You can see how he had the good slider from the get-go. When he's getting that slider to the back foot of lefties and gets swings and misses from left-handed hitters with the slider, you know it's the good one. He had depth to it. At times in the last few starts, it's gotten a little flat, kind of a one-plane pitch for him. When he's getting depth with it, it's pretty much lights-out." More >
Escape artist: The Rockies loaded the bases in the third before Jackson had even recorded an out. But after a visit from pitching coach Darren Balsley, Jackson settled down and would escape the frame unscathed. He fanned David Dahl on a slider in the dirt, before getting Murphy to bounce into an inning-ending double play to keep the Padres within striking distance at 4-0.
"I have to do a better job of going out and making adjustments a lot quicker and finding my way around the plate, putting pressure on them to hit the ball," Jackson said. "I do want to say Jon Gray came out -- that was an amazing job. It's probably one of the best starts I've seen at Coors Field. … Hats off to him."
Murphy flexes his power: It's hard not to be overshadowed by Gray's big day, but Murphy, a fellow rookie, had a day to remember. Murphy hit a pair of homers a combined 799 feet -- 378 feet in the first and 421 in the fifth -- and his five RBIs set a career high. However, between the offensive fireworks and the shutout, the being a part of Gray's performance remains more memorable to him.
"It's the most satisfying without a doubt," Murphy said. "That doesn't happen every year and doesn't happen every couple of years. To be a part of that, I'll be forever thankful."
Banged up: Padres catcher Derek Norris took a foul ball off his glove hand in the seventh inning and exited the game with a sprained left middle finger. X-rays were negative, and it's unclear whether Norris will miss any additional time. He likely would've been out of Sunday's starting lineup anyway. More >
"The curveball was a big weapon for him. I give him a lot of credit for sticking with that pitch. Our pitching guys wanted to add a pitch at the end of last year and the end of Spring Training. And he took his lumps with that pitch in Spring Training, but he didn't abandon it. It's his separation pitch. When you're throwing mid- to upper-90s and you've got a curveball that you can drop in at 79 mph, it makes it awful tough." -- Weiss, on Gray
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Gray's four-strikeout second inning was the 82nd four-strikeout inning in baseball history. However, it was the sixth time that has happened this season.
The Rockies caught Myers on the bases on a review for a second straight game. After reviewing a straight steal of second on Friday, Colorado challenged a pickoff play at first base on Saturday that saw Myers initially ruled safe. The umpires overturned the call, though, ruling that first baseman Gerardo Parra definitively tagged Myers before he touched the base.
WHAT'S NEXT Padres: Right-hander Jarred Cosart makes his return from a strained right hamstring and groin, which forced him to miss his most recent start. Cosart is looking to get back on track after a solid August. First pitch is slated for 1:10 p.m. PT.
Rockies: Right-hander Chad Bettis will face the Padres for the second time in eight days, as the Rockies go for a sweep of the Padres on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. MT. Bettis has limited opponents to two runs or less in four of his last five starts, including a two-hit shutout at home two starts ago.