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Richard's homer helps Padres edge Rockies

April 10, 2018

DENVER -- Heading into Monday night's series opener with the Rockies, the knock against Clayton Richard was his past struggles at Coors Field, where he was 1-5 with a 8.82 ERA. By the game's fourth frame, he knocked that rap down as he drove an 0-1 offering from Rockies Opening

DENVER -- Heading into Monday night's series opener with the Rockies, the knock against Clayton Richard was his past struggles at Coors Field, where he was 1-5 with a 8.82 ERA. By the game's fourth frame, he knocked that rap down as he drove an 0-1 offering from Rockies Opening Day starter Jon Gray out of the park for a three-run blast 418 feet into the right-field seats, igniting the Padres en route to a 7-6 win.
"I got lucky. Let's be real," Richard said. "I pretty much swing how I swing. If a ball runs into the bat, I'll be happy. We know he's a tough pitcher with good stuff, and I was just lucky."
Richard's first hit of the season paced the Padres to a five-run rally that gave them a 6-1 lead. It was Richard's third career homer, and his first since Aug. 27 last season in Miami.
"It's nice to get one of those in a win. It makes everything a lot more fun," Richard said. "It's a good win for us. This is a tough place to hold the lead, and the bullpen really stepped up and did a good job at the end."
Gray retired the first two batters in the fourth, then yielded a triple to center by Freddy Galvis -- the shortstop's 11th consecutive game reaching safely since Opening Day -- and a run-scoring double to right to Austin Hedges. Gray intentionally walked Manuel Margot, setting up the three-run blast from Richard.
"Clayton really got us going," manager Andy Green said. "It's not what you expect, but that ball was absolutely crushed."

Carlos Asuaje followed with a solo shot to right, giving the Padres back-to-back homers for the second time this season.
Richards needed the cushion, as he gave up three runs in the bottom of the inning, when Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta hit his first homer of the season with one out and runners on first and second. Richard had given up a solo homer to Ian Desmond in the second, and he faced traffic in the fifth with a hit and a walk, but he left the game with a 7-4 lead, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three over five innings.

"He was gutsy today," Green said. "It wasn't the finest command he's had, but he gives you absolutely everything he's got. He puts his leg in the way to knock down a missile up the middle so we get an out there. He gives you everything every single time out. He competes, guys feed off his energy, and his life in the dugout."
Richard was happy the Padres came away with a win against a good team. The sweet taste of vengeance on the ballpark that has haunted him for years was a bonus cherry on top.
"It's given me enough," Richards said. "It's nice to take something away."
End of Story: Richard faced the potential tying run when Trevor Story stepped to the plate in the fifth with two out and two on and a 7-4 Padres lead. Story had homered in back-to-back games entering the series. After showing him four consecutive pitches at 90 mph, Richard threw him an 83-mph slider for a swinging strikeout to end the threat.
"It was pretty solid," Richard said of his outing. "There were a couple at-bats where I didn't execute pitches, but fortunately we were able to put up enough to withstand it."

Bulletproof: The Padres' bullpen continued its run of excellent outings, with Craig Stammen entering the seventh with a one-run lead and runners on first and third and nobody out. He started by striking out Nolan Arenado and retiring Story and Desmond on the way to two scoreless innings, setting up Brad Hand, who struck out the side in the ninth to earn his third save. Stammen has yet to allow a run in six games spanning 8 1/3 innings, and he has retired 25 out of 26 batters he has faced, not including an intentional walk.
"He's been huge," Green said of Stammen. "That's a tough situation. That's one of the absolutely best hitters in baseball, runners on first and second, nobody out, hitter's environment, and to get that punchout on a chase slider was good. And to come back the next inning and give us a clean one and go 1-2-3 there in the eighth is bigger than you can even realize, because you keep Nolan Arenado in the on deck circle with the game on the line in the ninth."

Hedges matched his career high with three hits -- a bunt single to the pitcher in the second, a double to left that eluded Gold Glove third baseman Arenado, and a single to center in the eighth. The last time he had three hits in a game was Sept. 23, 2017, against the Rockies.

In the sixth inning, Gonzalez hit a high-arching bloop that barely cleared the right-field wall. A fan in the first row attempted to make a two-handed catch, but the ball was already in the glove of a leaping Cory Spangenberg. There was a little contact, but it appeared that Spangenberg's impact with the wall was what caused the ball to drop into the bleachers. Crew chief Brian Gorman initiated a review for fan interference, but the call would stand. Green came out of the dugout to protest and earned an automatic ejection for arguing a replay decision.
"I felt the ball go in my glove, and then all of a sudden when I was bringing it back I felt the ball change directions, which I don't think happens by just hitting the wall," Spangenberg said. "I think the replay says it all.
"It was an awesome feeling. I've never done that in my career. Obviously it didn't last too long."
CarGo's homer leads to Green's ejection

The Padres send lefty Joey Lucchesi to climb the hill Tuesday in a 5:40 p.m. PT game against the Rockies. Lucchesi has no decisions through his first two career starts, posting a 2.79 ERA through 9 2/3 innings as he gears up for his Coors Field debut.
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Owen Perkins is a contributor to