Rockies offense shut down by Padres pitching

Rockies offense shut down by Padres pitching

Rockies offense shut down by Padres pitching
SAN DIEGO -- It was the Rockies hitters' turn to disappear Sunday afternoon.

Managing just one hit after the second inning, the Rockies wasted a gritty effort from rookie starter Christian Friedrich and the bullpen and lost to the Padres, 3-2, at Petco Park in front of 25,825.

The Rockies dropped 2-of-3 to the Padres and haven't won a series within the National League West since June 1-3 against the Dodgers. At least the losses to the Padres were different. Friday night, the Rockies had decent offensive production -- which doesn't happen often at Petco -- yet lost, 9-5. On Sunday, DJ LeMahieu, who doubled in the second and final Colorado run, singled in the seventh inning to keep the final seven innings from being hitless.

"We get four hits in the first two innings and one over the course of the next seven," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "When your three, four, five and six hitters don't get anything, it's going to make for a tough day offensively."

Sunday ended up one of those days when the Rockies made little forward steps, which a team needs to have when on pace for its first 100-loss season in its 20-year history. The six-hit effort of a developing pitching staff throwing to emergency catcher Jordan Pacheco made it less than a total loss, even if it was loss nonetheless.

It was the second straight day the Rockies received workmanlike results from the starter and had the desired results from the team's paired pitching system. Since late June, the rotation has consisted of four starters, with three hybrid pitchers poised to fill the gaps between the starter and the late bullpen. The system provided for a collaborative winning effort in Saturday night's 8-2, 12-inning victory.

Friedrich spent much of Sunday afternoon behind in the count, but held the Padres to three runs and three walks, and left a 2-2 game after five innings. Adam Ottavino took the loss after giving up an Everth Cabrera single to open the seventh and seeing him score the winner on a Will Venable single off Matt Reynolds; however, Ottavino threw a clean sixth, proving he could bounce back after two innings Saturday night.

Four relievers, including Mike Ekstrom and Rex Brothers, kept it a one-run game as the Rockies waited for an offense that never showed.

The imperfect but effective start represented a rebound for Friedrich, who gave up five runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings of a home loss to the Pirates in his last start. It added to a good start-bad start pattern that has emerged over the last month.

Sunday could have been better had he been able to parcel his 82 pitches over more innings.

"He battled himself through five innings," Tracy said. "The only difficult fact was the fact he cut himself short."

Runs off Friedrich came on Chase Headley's sacrifice fly in the first inning, after Alexi Amarista doubled and took third on a wild pitch, and on Baker's RBI single after Cabrera walked and moved on a wild pitch.

Friedrich was especially galled by the Cabrera walk. Not only did Cabrera score, but when he slid into the plate he nearly hurt Pacheco, who has hit well enough while playing third base to push himself into NL Rookie of the Year consideration. Pacheco took some time to collect himself, but stayed in the game.

Friedrich's next step is to be more efficient.

"Deep counts definitely hurt me," Friedrich said. "I got a lot of 2-1 outs and 3-1 outs, which usually don't happen, and that saved me in a lot of ways."

It was just the second start and third appearance at catcher for Pacheco since he joined the club late last season. Fellow rookie Wilin Rosario was out with a left ankle sprain and Ramon Hernandez had taken a beating on Friday and Saturday nights.

Pacheco couldn't salvage the two wild pitches -- the first of which rolled to the backstop, the second bounced off his chest protector and toward the third-base line. But Pacheco caught Friedrich at every stage of the Minors, including a start at Triple-A Colorado Springs this season, and the two worked as well as possible in such an unusual situation.

Some Rockies officials believe Pacheco is good enough defensively to be a No. 2 catcher. Sunday confirmed that he could be useful behind the plate. Pacheco, who said he should have been toward the infield rather than over the plate when Cabrera slid into him, said the game went smoothly.

"It felt all right, and Christian was throwing strikes, locating pretty well," Pacheco said. "It made my job easier."

Rockies leadoff man Eric Young Jr. tripled and scored on Marco Scutaro's single in the first, and Josh Rutledge singled in the second and scored on LeMahieu's double. Those were the only runs off Padres starter Ross Ohlendorf, who gave up five hits and struck out six against two walks in 6 2/3 innings.

"I don't think I changed my approach after the first two innings," Ohlendorf said. "I probably kept the ball down a little bit better, and I started throwing changeups. I threw some really good changeups. I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand well in the first two innings, but definitely the results were much better later."

Venable's single made a winner of Dale Thayer, who threw 1 1/3 spotless innings. Huston Street threw a clean ninth for his 16th save.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for 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.