Reliable relief corps endures off-night at Coors
Benoit allows tying homer, then Kelley gives up walk-off single
DENVER -- The Padres' bullpen suffered a rare meltdown Wednesday night, blowing its third save in nine opportunities in a 5-4 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.
San Diego took the lead with a pair of seventh-inning doubles from Derek Norris and pinch-hitter Cory Spangenberg, then saw Colorado tie the game in the eighth and win it with three singles and an intentional walk in the ninth.
Dale Thayer pitched a scoreless seventh, setting up Joaquin Benoit for the eighth. Benoit stuck out Charlie Blackmon to open the inning, then yielded Corey Dickerson's second solo homer of the night to tie the game in his second blown save.
With the game tied heading into the bottom of the ninth, manager Bud Black brought in Shawn Kelley. Nolan Arenado led off with a single to right, but Kelley came back and struck out Carlos Gonzalez before facing Michael McKenry, who singled for his third hit, putting runners on first and third with one out.
"It was the McKenry at-bat that kind of changed it," Kelley said. "After the [leadoff] single I get the strikeout, and then he gets the hit and gets the runner to third with less than two outs on a first-pitch slider that wasn't well-executed."
After an intentional walk to DJ LeMahieu -- who is hitting .412 -- Black went to the mound and gave a beckoning motion toward center, where the Padres' bullpen sits. Chris Rearick, a left-handed rookie, answered the call, only to be sent back as he approached.
"I wanted to bring in the center fielder and not the left-handed pitcher," Black explained.
With Nick Hundley's right-handed bat on the Rockies' bench, Black preferred to have the right-handed Kelley face left-handed pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso rather than his rookie southpaw face a more intimidating bat. Hundley was 5-for-8 with a triple and a homer in the first two games of the series.
"We liked Kelly vs. Descalso," Black said.
Center fielder Wil Myers came in as Rearick returned to the 'pen, and Myers went to first. First baseman Yonder Alonso shifted toward second and second baseman Yangervis Solarte played right beside the bag for a five-man, drawn-in infield. The umpire pointed out that, per rule 1.13 and 1.14, Alonso was not allowed to use his first baseman's mitt if playing anywhere other than first base, so he retrieved a fielder's glove from the dugout and the critical at-bat commenced.
"We were hoping for a ground ball," Black said. "I think with Descalso, if we get the ball down, he might be prone to hit it in the ground."
Kelley's pitches weren't down however, and after getting a good swing at the first pitch which he fouled into the club deck, Descalso roped a single to left-center for the game-winner.
"I got ahead with the first pitch, and then I left the second one up a little bit," Kelley said. "You've still got to make pitches. I was going to try fastballs down, and maybe some sliders down later in the at bat if it got deeper. Trying to get him to hit something on the ground, or if I get to two strikes, try to get a punchout. If you can get that second out, then you go back to a normal alignment and just play for one out. There was nothing really crazy for me other than just making pitches, and I didn't make a pitch there at the end."