Pomeranz struggles as Rox drop series opener

Pomeranz struggles as Rox drop series opener

Pomeranz struggles as Rox drop series opener
SAN DIEGO -- The math doesn't add up for the Rockies.

Friday night's 9-5 loss to the Padres -- on a night when Petco Park yielded a higher-scoring game than usual -- marked the 18th time the Rockies coughed up as many as nine runs. It also was the ninth time they've scored five runs and didn't win.

The offense has generally been competitive. On Friday, Carlos Gonzalez knocked his second career grand slam, and has homered in two straight game after going dry for 94 straight at-bats. The Rockies had 10 hits, which is a high number for a team that struggles on the road. Two of them were Josh Rutledge doubles.

"We've been here before," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, whose club is 2-16 when giving up nine runs -- a stat mostly attributable to starting pitching that the club has tried to shore up through various means all season. "Once again, offensively we did a very nice job. We didn't pitch in the early part of the game."

Rookie Drew Pomeranz (1-5), who had eye-popping performances his first two starts coming back from the Minors, had his second straight rough outing. The concern about this one -- unlike his last one, when he gave up a three-run homer in the fifth inning of a 5-1 loss to the Phillies -- was the undefined dullness of his arm.

Pomeranz threw around 88 mph, 6-7 mph below the velocity he had shown after a nine-start tuneup at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Pomeranz felt he threw one bad pitch, yet he yielded two home runs -- Carlos Quentin's leadoff homer in the third, and Yasmani Grandal's two-run shot in a four-run third that the Padres used to answer Gonzalez's slam.

"I just felt like I couldn't get loose, just my whole arm," Pomeranz said. "I was throwing 95-97 mph that last start, and I was throwing 88 or so tonight. It's hard to pitch that way. I've got to figure out whatever is going on. It's nothing serious, just nothing that feels great."

The third straight loss for the Rockies (35-57), who are last in the National League West and looking up at the Padres (40-55), occurred against a sad backdrop. Early Friday morning, a gunman opened fire in an Aurora, Colo., theater, killing 12 and injuring 59.

Flags at Petco Park were half-staff, the teams observed a moment of silence and the Rockies wore purple jerseys and black wristbands. In addition, the Rockies hung a black jersey with "We Remember 7-20" in their dugout, and many players wore eye-black patches with the date inscribed.

Pomeranz, 23, has intermittently shown the raw talent that made him the fifth overall pick in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, and led the Rockies to trade former ace Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians to get him. The less-than-spry arm occurs at a time when Pomeranz's bounce-back capability will be tested. The Rockies have been going with four starters for a month, but his next scheduled turn, Tuesday at Arizona, would be his first start on three days' rest.

"I've just got to figure out what's going on here," Pomeranz said.

Quentin opened the second with his eighth homer of the season. Grandal doubled in a run two batters later and Everth Cabrera knocked Grandal home with an infield single to give the Padres a 3-0 lead.

After Gonzalez's homer, his 19th of the season, gave the Rockies a 4-3 lead, the first four hitters of the bottom half reached and scored against Pomeranz. Chase Headley and Quentin singled and Chris Denorfia tripled. Grandal hit his fifth home run since being called up from Triple-A Tucson on June 30. Three of those homers have come against the Rockies.

Gonzalez's homer came off Jason Marquis (3-5), who gave up five runs (three earned) and nine hits in five innings

Pomeranz said the Grandal homer was a pitch off the plate, one that probably could not have been lifted over the fence had he thrown with his regular velocity.

The Rockies loaded the bases in the fifth, but Marquis escaped with minimal damage. Andrew Brown drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to deep left to cut the deficit to 7-5, but Jordan Pacheco lined out to left field to end the threat.

Rutledge doubled in the eighth against Luke Gregerson to put runners at second and third with two out, but Padres manager Bud Black called on lefty Joe Thatcher to strike out Jason Giambi.

"He [Giambi] got up there with two guys on in a two-run game. We had Joe out there just for that purpose. That was big."

Padres pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay's leadoff bunt single in the eighth against Mike Ekstrom led to a run, and Headley knocked his 11th homer of the season to make it 9-5.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.