DENVER -- Rockies starter Jon Gray called his line "ugly." There was no other way to describe 10 hits and seven runs in five innings Monday night's 7-6 loss to the Padres. But he saw enough beauty to feel good about it, even while acknowledging he has to be better.In
DENVER -- Rockies starter Jon Gray called his line "ugly." There was no other way to describe 10 hits and seven runs in five innings Monday night's 7-6 loss to the Padres. But he saw enough beauty to feel good about it, even while acknowledging he has to be better.
In his first start after holding the Padres scoreless and striking out seven in seven innings in a win last Wednesday at Petco Park, Gray didn't put away the Padres with two out in the second and fourth in innings at Coors Field, with the fourth featuring a three-run homer by pitcher Clayton Richard followed by Carlos Asuaje's first homer of the season -- both on 0-1 counts.
Add to that a run he coughed up in a fifth inning that manager Bud Black gave him to ease the bullpen's workload, and Gray (1-2) was left looking for positives that had omitted job one -- keeping the team in winning position. The Rockies are 1-3 in their six-game homestand.
"You can take the line and it looks ugly, yeah," said Gray, who managed six strikeouts. "But I executed a lot of pitches and got a lot of soft contact. But that's what I can do every time. I can get better this week. That's what I want to do. But i don't think we took a giant step back. I really don't."
A couple of two-out hits by Austin Hedges were soft. But at Coors Field, and as the No. 1 pitcher on a team looking to return to the postseason, you can't follow up by giving up no-doubter homers to a pitcher who has three long balls in his career and a second baseman who has five in 107 Major League games.
"When Jon gets off to a good start, usually there's that momentum that he carries over," Black said. "It looked to be a good night for the job.
"But in the middle part of the game, it got away from him, for sure. That's something that we'll address, that we've got to keep the focus from pitch one."
An offense that managed just six runs while dropping two of three to the Braves over the weekend woke with an Ian Desmond solo homer in the second and a Chris Iannetta three-run shot in the fifth off Richard (1-1), who gave up four runs and five hits in five innings. Carlos Gonzalez added a sky-high, two-run homer to left off Jordan Lyles that was reviewed for fan interference (and led to Padres manager Andy Green's ejection.).
But Craig Stamen and Brad Hand (three saves) held the Rockies scoreless and hitless over the final three innings.
"We're really close. It's April 9," said Desmond, who snapped an 0-for-16 skid but has three homers and a team-high eight RBIs. "I'm the first to tell you these games matter, because I've been part of a team where we were pretty much out of it in the beginning. But I feel like we're showing a lot of life offensively. We just need to put the whole team together."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Soft route to the showers: Gray had two outs in the second and fourth innings before any runs scored, but Hedges did him in with softly hit balls. Hedges' 48-foot grounder up the third-base line kept the second alive for Manuel Margot's RBI single. In the fourth, Hedges' chopper short-hopped Nolan Arenado at third for a double. After Margot was intentionally walked, Richard and Asuaje hit back-to-back homers.
Kick him while he's down: Iannetta's three-run homer in the fourth cut the difference to 6-4. With the Rockies playing another nine straight days, every bullpen inning counts. So Black wanted to squeeze one more out of Gray in the fifth. But the Padres had none of that, as Jose Pirela's RBI double provided the run that kept the Padres in the lead after Gonzalez's two-run homer in the sixth.
"It wasn't well-executed," Gray said. "When they hit singles, they weren't over the middle of the plate. We stayed outside. But I've just got to be better. If I at least get it down, it's gonna be a ground ball."
"What's going to serve you is what you need to hold onto, and what's going to serve him tonight is to hold onto the fact that he made some really good pitches and dominated for the first portion of that game -- Iannetta, complimenting Gray on his defiance
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Rockies righty Bryan Shaw fanned Hunter Renfroe in the eighth for his 400th career strikeout. But Shaw forgot about it until he heard screaming for the ball. However, Shaw is more interested in a milestone more befitting of what he holds dear -- 500 appearances. He needs 19.
"I've got the ball up there; obviously, they gave it to me," Shaw said. "But for me, I'm not a big strikeout guy anyway. More for me, I like my appearances."
DEPTH TAKES A HIT
Starting pitching depth at Triple-A Albuquerque has taken a hit because righty Yency Almonte left the team's Opening Day start with a nerve problem in his right elbow, Black said. Black said Almonte will miss a few starts but should be OK because he has dealt with the issue before.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
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.
• CarGo's homer leads to Greens ejection
Look at the numbers through two games for lefty Tyler Anderson (0-0, 7.56 ERA) and you see trouble. But after coughing up seven runs in 2 1/3 innings at Arizona, Anderson subdued the Padres (one run, six hits in 6 1/3 innings) in his last start. He faces them again Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. at Coors Field.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.