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Key error sinks Padres in loss to Rockies

DENVER -- In one fleeting instance, Jason Marquis' greatest ally became the Padres' nightmare on Friday.

For most of his six-inning outing at Coors Field, Marquis got the Rockies to pound ball after ball into the ground, the result of his plus-pitch, the sinkerball, doing what it was supposed to do.

"He threw a bunch, a ton of ground balls," said Padres manager Bud Black.

Marquis got 14 ground-ball outs, though that elusive 15th grounder could have had the biggest impact on the final score, as the Rockies coasted to a 5-2 victory before a sold-out crowd of 49,077 at Coors Field.

With a runner on third base and two outs in the third inning -- and the Padres holding a 1-0 lead -- Josh Rutledge chopped a ball toward shortstop that Everth Cabrera charged, fielded and bobbled as the run scored.

"It's a hard charge with a fast runner, a do-or-die play, and the ball may have come up on him, hit him on the heel," Black said. "It just wasn't hit that hard."

Cabrera was charged with an error, though the worst was yet to come.

After Marquis walked Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki doubled to the gap in left-center for a 3-1 lead. The Rockies (3-1) never trailed again.

"It's happened over and over in my career," Marquis said of a costly error made behind him. "There have been times when they make great plays behind me to get out of an inning. It's a physical mistake. That happens."

Marquis, who had his start moved back one day so that he could pitch at Coors Field, allowed two earned runs on six hits in six innings -- the longest outing by any starter in this young season for the Padres (1-3). Both of those earned runs came on solo home runs by Wilin Rosario and Dexter Fowler, both on sliders.

"The three sliders that were up in the zone they did the damage," Black said.

In hindsight, Marquis said afterwards, he should have stuck more to his fastball with considerable sink. It was a pitch that worked well for him in 2009 when he was an All-Star for the Rockies. And it was a pitch that got him far Friday, just not far enough.

Marquis would have normally started Thursday in New York, but the Padres liked that he's had success in his career at Coors Field. For most of Friday, it looked like a brilliant move.

"I should have used the sinker more, because I had a good one," Marquis said. "I felt like I executed a lot of fastballs today. I got beat on my slider a couple of times, but I felt like I executed my game plan."

So did Rockies left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis (1-0), who allowed one run on five hits in six innings. He allowed one walk and had five strikeouts, getting a lot of mileage from his big breaking ball.

"It was mixing speed, a lot of slow and up to 90 mph, and he had a good curveball," Black said of Francis. "That was one of the best curveballs I've seen from him in years."

The Padres got a run in the first inning as Cabrera singled and stole second base. He later scored when Jesus Guzman -- in the lineup at first base because of his .309 career average against lefties -- dumped a soft single into left field.

"I threw the ball well," Francis said. "Even in the first inning I gave up that run, but they had a broken-bat single."

But the Padres -- who have now scored two runs in three of their four games -- wouldn't score again until the eighth inning, when Carlos Quentin hooked an RBI double down the left-field line.

For their offensive struggles, the Padres certainly had a few chances to get back in the game. They were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Rookie second baseman Jedd Gyorko, who struck out on three occasions, came up with Quentin on second base in the eighth inning. He lined a ball to shortstop Tulowitzki, who leapt for the ball and appeared to catch it.

But the ball came out when he turned his glove over, and third-base umpire Bruce Dreckman ruled that Tulowitzki hadn't made the catch, even as players drifted off the field. Gyorko stopped running and the inning ended when Tulowitzki threw to Rutledge, the second baseman, who by then was by first base.

In the ninth inning, Mark Kotsay had a pinch-hit single to center field, but Rafael Betancourt struck out pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso to end the game.

"If you can get the tying run to the plate here, you never know," Black said. "Leads here are tenuous. There's offense in this ballpark, but today was a good-pitched game in this ballpark."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.
Read More: San Diego Padres, Jesus Guzman, Everth Cabrera, Jason Marquis