"We made a hell of an effort to try to get all the way back into that thing," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Blackmon and LeMahieu's scary collision on an Andy Parrino blooper was, like many of the important plays in the early going, memorable for all the wrong reasons for the Rockies. Adding insult to near-injury on that play was the fact that as the ball bounced away from the stunned duo, Cameron Maybin was able to score all the way from first with the Padres' first run.
DJ LeMahieu said afterwards that neither he nor Blackmon called the ball, setting up the bruising blow.
"They had a pretty good collision," Jim Tracy said. "They actually didn't butt heads, or we would've had a problem. They kind of ran into each other's shoulders, but they hit one another hard enough that Charlie was dazed a little bit there for a few seconds."
Another significant collision -- that of Jesus Guzman's bat with a 1-1 Drew Pomeranz offering -- resulted in a home run to dead centerfield, a blow that brought home three and boosted the Padres' lead to 4-0.
"It wasn't a bad pitch -- it wasn't even in the strike zone," Pomeranz said of the home run ball. "I don't know how he hit it, but like I said, that's how it happens sometimes. I felt good out there."
Pomeranz (1-9) would leave after that third inning, having given up the four runs on four hits and striking out three. He also watched two wild pitches bounce away from catcher Wilin Rosario, both of which allowed Padres' runners to advance.
"I actually think that we paid for two pitches tonight," Jim Tracy said, referring to the two-strike pitch that Maybin hit prior to the collision play and the home run ball to Guzman. "Two pitches away from shutting them out, but that's baseball and we didn't make 'em. We paid for it to the tune of four runs."
The Rockies (58-86) were unable to rebound from those early knocks largely because of the performance of Padres' starter Casey Kelly (2-1), who threw six scoreless innings before an error put a man on to start the seventh and begin what became a three-run rally in that frame. All told, the Rockies got to the 22-year-old for three runs, two of them earned, and seven hits in six innings, a far cry from the five earned runs they put up on Kelly in 5 2/3 innings September 2 in Colorado.
"I'll tell you, he had a terrific breaking ball early, as evidenced by the strikeouts," Tracy said. "He pitched down in the zone very well. He pitched effectively ahead in the early part of the game."
Blackmon and LeMahieu each had RBIs as part of the seventh-inning rally, and Chris Nelson doubled for his second hit of the game to run his record at the plate this series to a scalding 5-for-8. Nelson continues to take advantage of his time in the lineup, hitting .336 in 39 games since the All-Star break.
While Blackmon's single that inning chased Kelly and gave the Rockies first and third with no one out, Brad Brach came on to induce three straight Rockies' outs and escape what was by far Colorado's biggest threat, having yielded just one more run.
"They had some momentum. Those were big outs," Padres manager Bud Black said of the three Brach got. "It shifted the momentum back to us. Our relief pitchers did a nice job."
So did the Rockies' relievers, as they did all they could to give the offense its best chance for a full recovery, turning in a second-straight day of spotless work. After 5 1/3 scoreless innings Friday, Colorado relievers turned in six more Saturday, including two from piggy-backer Carlos Torres and one from Edgmer Escalona.
"You cannot fault the effort once again tonight of our bullpen: more zeros, lots of them," Tracy said. "We just came up a run short. Our opportunities were there, we created them. We were down 4-0, battled back, we were in a wonderful position -- one more hit ... We just couldn't push the tying run across."
So ultimately, it was the run borne of the collision that made the difference, and sent the Rockies headed into Sunday's rubber game needing a win to avoid a fourth-straight series loss. They may be in position to bounce back in the end, though: their last series win came Aug. 31-Sept. 2 against San Diego.