Rox drop fourth straight, but maintain WC spot

Rox drop fourth straight, but maintain WC spot

SAN DIEGO -- Padres left-hander Clayton Richard celebrated his fresh two-year, $6 million contract extension by increasing the Rockies' stress.

A day after signing his new deal, Richard struck out eight in 7 1/3 scoreless innings, and forced three double-play grounders, as the Padres sent the Rockies to their fourth straight loss, 3-0, at Petco Park on Thursday night.

"That's a life-changing thing for me and my family, to know that we're going to be here and be a part of this, but I didn't want to put more emphasis into today, as opposed to six days from now," Richard said of his new contract. "It means something, yes, but on the field, I have to eliminate that from my thought process."

Rockies shortstop Trevor Story said of Richard: "He mixed it up, kept the ball down, did a good job of keeping us off balance."

Richard's scoreless start

The Rockies, who were shut out for the second straight game, remained a game up in the race for the second National League Wild Card, because the Brewers lost, 5-3, in 10 innings to the Cubs. However, the Cardinals, winners of three straight, pulled to 1 1/2 games behind the Rockies with a win over the Reds.

"We're playing baseball, trying to win the game," Rockies leadoff man Charlie Blackmon said. "I never really thought about those other teams at any point."

The Padres' Christian Villanueva drove in two runs -- one on his second big league homer, a fifth-inning leadoff shot off Rockies starter Tyler Anderson.

Villanueva's run-scoring single

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
He needed help: Anderson had not given up a run in 14 innings since returning from a left knee injury, which required surgery and cost him three months, but he had no margin for error. His mistake came in the fifth on an 0-2 changeup that Villanueva laced into the left-field seats. It was his second home run in as many nights after making his big league debut on Monday. More >

"I'm honestly trying to go up there and have good at-bats and make good contact, hit the ball hard," Villanueva said. "I'm not really worried about whether they're home runs or not."

Villanueva's solo home run

Dirty dozen: After shortstop Yangervis Solarte's one-out fielding error in the eighth inning allowed runners to reach first and second -- the Rockies' first foray into scoring position since Story's double-play grounder to end the first -- Padres manager Andy Green replaced Richard with Kirby Yates to face DJ LeMahieu. Yates came from a 2-0 count to put LeMahieu on the brink. Six pitches in, the count was full. Then LeMahieu fouled off the next five pitches -- all fastballs -- before Yates struck him out on a curve. Nolan Arenado grounded out to end the threat. More >

"Really good matchup, really good battle," said Green. "Kirby did a tremendous job."

Yates fans LeMahieu

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When he struck out the side in the ninth, Brad Hand became the second relief pitcher in Padres history to record consecutive 100-strikeout seasons. He joined legendary Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, who did so in 1996 and '97. Since the start of the 2016 season, only the Yankees' Dellin Betances has more relief strikeouts than Hand's 211.

Hand earns save in shutout win

REPLAY REVIEW
Richard leads the National League with 32 double-play grounders this season. He used the help of a review to record his second of three on Thursday. With a man on first and one out in the fourth, Ian Desmond bounced back to the mound. Richard started the twin killing, but Desmond was initially called safe at first. Replay overturned that ruling.

Padres challenge play at first

WHAT'S NEXT
Rockies:Righty Jon Gray (8-4, 3.75 ERA) had struck out five in five innings against the Padres on Sunday, but he didn't come back after a rain delay and the Rockies ended up losing. He'll meet the Padres again Friday at Petco Park at 8:10 p.m. MT.

Padres: Jordan Lyles aims to put a dent in his former team's playoff hopes when the Padres host the Rockies Friday night at 7:10 p.m. PT. In two starts for San Diego, Lyles has allowed 13 runs in 13 2/3 innings. He was released by Colorado on Aug. 1, before signing with the Padres a week later.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

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

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