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Bullpen struggles demonstrate Rockies' need

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Iffy eighth-inning relief pitching in the Rockies' 9-6 victory over the Padres on Monday night may have interjected excitement in what had been a lopsided game. More importantly, it may have illustrated the Rockies' biggest need heading into the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The excitement didn't hurt, because the Rockies made it to the ninth with the lead, and that's usually enough. Greg Holland struck out two in a scoreless, one-hit ninth for his Majors-leading 29th save -- in 30 attempts. But there were some hairy turns before Holland took the ball.

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DENVER -- Iffy eighth-inning relief pitching in the Rockies' 9-6 victory over the Padres on Monday night may have interjected excitement in what had been a lopsided game. More importantly, it may have illustrated the Rockies' biggest need heading into the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The excitement didn't hurt, because the Rockies made it to the ninth with the lead, and that's usually enough. Greg Holland struck out two in a scoreless, one-hit ninth for his Majors-leading 29th save -- in 30 attempts. But there were some hairy turns before Holland took the ball.

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• Lefty Jake McGee earned the final out to stop a seventh-inning rally, but he gave up Hector Sanchez's homer to open the eighth. Then he walked Jose Pirela and yielded a soft double to Matt Szczur.

• Righty Adam Ottavino worked a Jabari Blash sacrifice fly and retired Erick Aybar on a screaming liner. But he yielded an 0-2, RBI single to Allen Cordoba that made it 8-6.

• Righty Scott Oberg gave up a single to Manuel Margot, the only batter he faced.

• Lefty Mike Dunn ended the madness by extracting a Carlos Asuaje fly ball.

"They had some good at-bats," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "I was just trying to get some matchups -- the right guys on the right guys."

McGee has emerged as primary setup man with a solid year. Even with Monday's hiccup, opponents are hitting .211 (30-for-142). Ottavino hasn't been sharp -- he has given up 13 runs and five homers in his last six appearances. Oberg has been up and down in his team-high 42 appearances, some at high leverage.

Dunn has mostly struggled since suffering a back injury in late April, but has quietly regained some form. He has yielded one hit in his last six appearances, covering 4 1/3 innings.

The Rockies are 48-3 when leading after seven innings, but slumps and the general requirements of a contender (they're a half-game out of the first National League Wild Card spot) dictate that more of the right guys -- indications are they would like to acquire two relief pitchers -- would be better.

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

Colorado Rockies, Dane Dunning, Jake McGee, Scott Oberg, Adam Ottavino