Erratic eighth wipes out Rockies' early efforts
Padres score two runs on wild throws from Brothers, Rosario
SAN DIEGO -- There's no defense for walks. And Rockies slumping lefty reliever Rex Brothers makes it clear there's no alibi for them, either.
Play after play, standout defense kept the Rockies holding a one-run lead over the Padres in the eighth inning Monday night at Petco Park. But then Brothers entered, walked the bases loaded with two outs, then bounced a wild pitch that set in motion a 5-4 defeat in front of 14,784.
"I wouldn't necessarily throw it on mechanics or mentality or anything," Brothers said. "I don't have an excuse."
Brothers (1-2) bounced a 2-1 fastball to Yasmani Grandal past catcher Wilin Rosario to let Xavier Nady score from third with the tying run. Rosario dashed to the backstop and threw wildly to Brothers covering the plate. Seth Smith, who began the play at second, came in with the winning run.
"Rosario is trying to make a play, and I know that as a pitcher, that makes for a tough throw-and-catch," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Rosario threw a bullet.
"I can't remember the last time I saw that play. You never know how a game is going to play out. This game of baseball takes some twists and turns."
On Sunday afternoon, Brothers gave up Brandon Crawford's 10th-inning leadoff home run in the Rockies' 5-4 loss. But Monday was more concerning because it lifted Brothers' walks total to seven in 5 2/3 innings.
"It's keeping it as simple as possible," Brothers said. "Whatever that is for me, I'll figure it out. You can bet your butt I'm going to get it done. That's all there is to it."
Brothers, who converted 19-of-20 save opportunities last year and on Monday matched his blown save total from a season ago, is the primary setup man of a reconstituted bullpen that didn't count on him losing touch with the strike zone.
Effective pitching from such a key reliever is a must, with close games becoming the norm. Four games into their first two-city road trip -- and first within the National League West -- the Rockies are 1-3, with all the games decided by one run.
"We've got to get him rolling," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's struggling right now with his command.
"I felt like Rex would get through that inning. He almost did. He usually gets out of that stuff, when he does create some traffic. It doesn't look like it's mechanical with me. We've got to get him pitching with confidence again."
Three double plays and some dazzling defense -- in particular by shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, third baseman Nolan Arenado and first baseman Justin Morneau -- helped the Rockies maintain a lead for most of the game. Rosario had the big offensive shot, for two runs in the fifth off Eric Stults for his second home run in two days.
However, the Rockies could not break Stults for a big inning. They scored once in the third but could have had more had Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera not made a diving snatch of Carlos Gonzalez's liner.
"Stults doesn't give in," Weiss said. "He's not going to give in and give you something to the middle of the plate. He still pitches to the edges of the plate when he gets in trouble.
"I felt like we had some opportunities early but we didn't take advantage of them. We left a lot of guys on base. I felt like we could've had more than four but couldn't get that big hit."
However, the Rockies dazzled on defense.
Arenado dove to his right to keep Grandal from extra bases at the end of the second inning. Rosario bounded from his catcher position to grab Stults' bunt and throw out the lead runner to snuff out a third-inning rally before it began.
The Rockies stopped another threat after Tommy Kahnle walked Jedd Gyorko to open the sixth. Morneau, who is proving to be among the better right-handed throwers at first base, made a smooth throw to second and Kahnle used quick footwork to cover the bag for a double play on a Chase Headley grounder.
Tulowitzki, at the center of two of the double plays, made another big play in the seventh. Will Venable tripled off Matt Belisle with one out, but Tulowitzki -- part of a drawn-in infield -- nabbed Chris Denorfia's grounder and threw home to catch Venable in a rundown.
The early defense helped Rockies starter Jordan Lyles, who labored in the fifth but left with the lead after giving up three runs on six hits in five innings. The Padres' Tommy Medica and Cabrera had RBI doubles with two out. Alexi Amarista tripled off the right-field wall. The Rockies' Michael Cuddyer suffered a right elbow contusion trying to catch Amarista's drive and left the game, but Lyles struck out Smith to end the threat.
But all the effort went unrewarded. The Rockies' best chance ended when Tulowitzki smoked an Alex Torres pitch with the bases loaded right into the glove of third baseman Headley to start a double play to end the sixth.
The Rockies didn't manage a baserunner in the final three innings. Dale Thayer (2-0) pitched a perfect eighth. Huston Street had to hold his breath when Gonzalez flied to deep center but earned his fourth save.