Stults outdueled by De La Rosa, Padres drop opener
Lefty works 6 2/3 steady frames, but lineup held to five hits
DENVER -- If there's anything Padres manager Bud Black has come to expect about a trip to Coors Field -- it's to expect the unexpected.
Black has seen crooked numbers in bunches on the scoreboard, tattooed shots heading in the direction of Kansas and outfielders running in circles trying to track down balls in the vast outfield here.
In his 66th visit to Coors Field, Black found himself with a prime vantage point of a unusual pitching gem in the Mile High City, as lefties Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies and Eric Stults matched each other, zero for zero for most of the night.
"That's a rarity here," Black said, sounding a little incredulous. "… You don't see games like that often."
De La Rosa allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings and pitched out of a potentially sticky situation to lead the Rockies to a 3-1 victory over the Padres before a crowd of 35,384.
De La Rosa didn't allow a hit until the seventh inning -- he did yield a walk in the second inning, but up to that point had faced the minimum 18 hitters. Chris Denorfia tripled off the wall in right field to start the inning, putting him in a precarious position with a 1-0 lead.
"I never think about it," De La Rosa said of the no-hitter. "I just try to go as long as I can in the game and I think I did a pretty good job at that."
After facing Denorfia, De La Rosa worked his way through the Nos. 2-3-4 hitters in the Padres' lineup -- Everth Cabrera, Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin.
De La Rosa, who successfully pitched to both sides of the plate, utilized his cutter and split-finger, which has changeup action to it, and broke Cabrera's bat on a ground ball to second with the infield pulled in to get the first out of the inning.
With the infield still in, he then went inside on Headley, who hit a soft liner to second before getting Quentin to popup, thus ending the inning.
"He'd been throwing the splitter and fastball away the entire game, so I was trying to pick one side or the other," Headley said. "I got one decent pitch and hit it pretty hard foul. After that, I was just trying to battle. When he has his stuff going to both sides of the plate, it's tough."
For as good as De La Rosa was Friday, he wasn't the only lefty dealing with a hot hand. Stults managed to keep the Rockies (24-19) off-balanced with his bevy of soft stuff as well as a well-spotted fastball.
Stults allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits over 6 2/3 innings with one walk and two strikeouts.
"I think getting strike one was the key, getting ahead of guys," Stults said. "They're an aggressive team, but they were a little more patient than I thought they would be. They were giving me it [strike one]."
Stults retired the first 10 hitters he faced before Drew Stubbs doubled with one out in the fourth inning. One inning later, after getting the first out on a grounder, Justin Morneau singled up the middle on a 0-2 pitch and later moved to third base on DJ LeMahieu's double.
"I was trying to go fastball off the plate on 0-2, but I left it out over the plate," Stults said of the pitch to Morneau. "I just didn't execute."
The inning might well have ended with Morneau stuck at third base and the game still scoreless, but a grounder to the left of second baseman Jedd Gyorko became an error as he bobbled the ball, which allowed De La Rosa time to beat the throw to the bag as Morneau scored.
"It hit off the heel of the glove a little and bounced away from me," Gyorko said. "… It's a play I have to make."
The Padres (20-23) committed three errors in the game, including a bad pickoff throw by relief pitcher Nick Vincent and then later a throwing error by Cabrera on a wet ball that slipped out of his hands.
"The type of games we've played, a miscue can come back to haunt you," Black said. "You have got to make plays when you're not scoring runs."
The Padres -- now 4-19 when scoring three or fewer runs -- did manage to avoid their eighth shutout of the season when Headley rolled a single up the middle in the ninth inning off of ageless Rockies' closer, LaTroy Hawkins.
But Hawkins struck out Cameron Maybin to end the game with two on for his 10th save of the season.