De La Rosa flirts with no-no as Rox edge Padres
Lefty doesn't allow hit until seventh, wins fifth consecutive start
DENVER -- His lower back began bothering him again in the third inning while running out a grounder on Friday night. And while warming up in the bullpen beforehand, left-hander Jorge De La Rosa developed swelling on the knuckle of the middle finger of his pitching hand.
"It's always something with me," a smiling De La Rosa said after holding the Padres hitless for six innings and scoreless for seven as the Rockies beat San Diego, 3-1.
De La Rosa was referring to last season when in mid-June, he developed a bone bruise in the webbing of his left thumb, but pitched through pain every start until finally being shut down in mid-September.
Stiff back? Swollen knuckle? At Coors Field, De La Rosa is apt to overcome any obstacle. That was apparent again as he stifled the Padres and flirted with history while winning his fifth straight start. He has a 1.58 ERA in those outings after beginning the season 0-3 with a 7.58 ERA in his first four starts.
De La Rosa held San Diego hitless until Chris Denorfia opened the seventh with a triple off the right-field wall. Leading 1-0 to that point on an unearned run, De La Rosa quickly regrouped. He shattered the bat of Everth Cabrera, who grounded to second. Chase Headley then hit a soft liner to second baseman DJ LeMahieu before Carlos Quentin popped up to third baseman Nolan Arenado to end the threat.
"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."
That was the final inning for De La Rosa, who threw 59 of 89 pitches for strikes and got 11 outs on ground balls.
"He threw some really good changeups in that first inning that just bottomed out," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of De La Rosa's 13-pitch first that included two strikeouts. "He had a good cutter tonight for the right-handed hitters. He was speeding them up with that cutter and then going to the changeup. It was a great performance."
De La Rosa took the mound on eight days of rest after his scheduled start on Tuesday at Kansas City was pushed back due to lower back stiffness. He said he felt stiffness in the same spot while running out the grounder in the third. He reached base on an error in the fifth and was in discomfort, prompting a visit from Weiss and trainer Keith Dugger.
De La Rosa is now 3-0 with a 2.82 ERA in four starts at Coors Field this season and 13-1 with a 2.77 ERA since the start of the 2012 season there. In his career at Coors Field, De La Rosa is 38-12 with a 4.13 ERA.
The Rockies scored an unearned run in the fifth when second baseman Jedd Gyorko bobbled De La Rosa's two-out grounder with runners at second and third to allow Drew Stubbs, who opened the inning with a double, to score.
"It hit off the heel of the glove and bounced away from me," Gyroko said. "It's a play I've got to make, simple as that."
Charlie Blackmon singled home the Rockies' second run with two out in the seventh, ending a string of 13 hitless at-bats. Blackmon's hit came after LeMahieu singled with one out and De La Rosa's sacrifice moved him to second. Blackmon's hit also finished Padres starter Eric Stults, who allowed six hits.
"The only other pitch I was frustrated with was the last one I threw to Blackmon," Stults said. "I figured he was going to be aggressive there and swing early in the account, and I just threw a pitch right down the middle."
Adam Ottavino retired the first two batters in the eighth. After giving up a single to Nick Hundley, Ottavino was replaced by left-hander Boone Logan, who walked Yonder Alonso. Pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal took a third strike to end the inning.
A throwing error by Cabrera in the eighth enabled the Rockies to tack on an unearned run. LaTroy Hawkins earned his 10th save in as many chances, but gave up a run in the ninth and had runners on first and second with one out. He got pinch-hitter Seth Smith to pop out and struck out Cameron Maybin to preserve De La Rosa's win.
The Rockies had lost three straight games and five of their past six to complete a 2-5 road trip before returning to Coors Field where they are 14-5 this season.
Conditions were ideal for pitching Friday, as the game started with a temperature of 55 degrees and 63 percent humidity.
"Both starters were great," Padres manager Bud Black said. "It was a pitchers' duel all the way, which is a rarity here. You don't see games like that often, but that's a tribute to both guys."