"It's rare that you come into Petco Park and throw five runs up there on six hits in the top of the first inning," Rockies' manager Jim Tracy said. "You don't see that happen too often, my memory doesn't remember seeing that with any clubs I've been with, but unfortunately we gave it all back."
Well, not quite all of it. After two Padres singles and a walk loaded the bases, Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood left a fastball up and out over the plate to San Diego first baseman Yonder Alonso, who deposited it in the left field stands for his first career grand slam.
From there, Chatwood rebounded to stymie San Diego's offensive efforts, working 3 2/3 innings of five-hit, four-run ball and striking out four.
"We won, that's all that matters," Chatwood said. "I kept us in the game."
His bullpen did the rest, stopping the Padres' offense in those first-inning tracks and working 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief behind Chatwood. Guillermo Moscoso's 1 2/3 scoreless innings earned him the win, but Matt Reynolds (2/3 innings), Rex Brothers (one inning) and Matt Belisle (one inning) also turned in hitless, scoreless outings. Their efforts allowed Tracy to hand the ball to closer Rafael Betancourt in a save situation in the ninth, and Betancourt allowed just one hit en route to his 29th save.
"This team's one of the hottest teams in baseball right now," Chatwood said. "That first inning we scored a lot, they put up four runs right back on us. To go out there and shut them down through 8 2/3 innings is big."
"Their bullpen did a good job. They put up eight zeroes. They did a nice job," Padres' manager Bud Black said. "Overall, they outpitched us."
And while the bullpen was keeping the Padres at four, the offense was adding on, albeit little by little, with two solo home runs, one apiece from Nelson and pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon.
Nelson's homer was part of a three-hit day -- tied for his career high -- that left him just that elusive triple short of the cycle. He is hitting .330 since the All-Star break and .339 against NL West opponents in 2012.
He and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez led the way offensively for Colorado. The Rockies' All-Star turned in one of his best games of a slow (by his standards) second half, smacking four hits to tie his career high. Gonzalez also stole two bases, his 19th and 20th of the year, numbers that make him the first Rockies player ever to turn in three straight 20-20 seasons.
"It means a lot because every year I always try to get better and get better numbers than the year before, and stay consistent with whatever I've been doing since 2010," Gonzalez said. "It's always nice, but I'm always trying to get better and maybe in the future I can do better things."
"Great to see Carlos Gonzalez bounce back with four base hits tonight," Tracy said of his star, who hit .330 before the All-Star break but has batted just .262 since. "[He's] playing the game very aggressively, couple of stolen bases."
"Carlos just plays, and I think the beautiful thing we've seen with regard to Carlos, just like we're seeing from Dexter Fowler, is that they're continuing to play," Tracy added. "I think that's very important, that message to be sent to our younger players to see them doing that."
The young Rockies seem to be learning the lesson well, as after going 37-64 from April through July, Colorado is 21-21 since August 1. They'll have no time to rest on those laurels down the stretch: Friday's win was the first of 20 games in 20 days to close out the season.