SAN DIEGO -- Pat Valaika delivered a pinch-hit RBI double in the sixth inning, then blasted a solo homer to improve the Rockies' playoff hopes with an 8-4 victory over the Padres at Petco Park on Sunday.Valaika's bloop double off Kyle McGrath, which barely eluded Padres center fielder Manuel Margot
SAN DIEGO -- Pat Valaika delivered a pinch-hit RBI double in the sixth inning, then blasted a solo homer to improve the Rockies' playoff hopes with an 8-4 victory over the Padres at Petco Park on Sunday.
Valaika's bloop double off Kyle McGrath, which barely eluded Padres center fielder Manuel Margot with two on and two out in the sixth, gave the Rockies a 5-2 lead. The Padres made it a one-run game with Christian Villanueva's two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.
But Valaika's 13th homer of the season, followed by Charlie Blackmon's 35th homer of the year -- both off Buddy Baumann in the top of the ninth -- assured a victory and a split of the four-game series. Despite going 2-5 since last Sunday, the Rockies enter the final week of the regular season holding the second National League Wild Card, two games ahead of the Brewers, who lost Sunday to the Cubs, and 2 1/2 ahead of the Cardinals, who fell to the Pirates.
• Final week of regular season a test for Rockies
"We're in the driver's seat," Valaika said. "We're not really chasing. This is on us. All we have to do is win some games. That's a good feeling for us."
The RBI double accounted for Valaika's 16th pinch-hit RBI of the season -- the most by a Major League rookie since the rookie rule was instituted in 1958.
"Pat's been doing those things all year," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "That was big to stretch the lead. We talk about that a lot, getting that run going into the ninth. We call it a 'jugular run.'"
But the Rockies have injury concerns as they enter their final six-game homestand. They held right fielder Carlos Gonzalez out of Sunday's lineup because of a left shoulder injury sustained Saturday night, and third baseman Nolan Arenado -- the NL leader in RBIs with 126 -- sustained an injury at the base of the right hand, beneath the thumb, and exited Sunday's game after five innings.. Both players are considered day to day.
Rockies rookie starter German Marquez overcame consecutive homers by William Myers, whose 29 this year are a career high, and Yangervis Solarte with two out in the first, and didn't give up any more runs in his five innings for his first win since Aug. 18.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Villanueva stays hot: After going hitless in his Major League debut, Villanueva has taken advantage of his opportunities. Wednesday's shot, off of reliever Scott Oberg, marked his third in as many starts. It was his first off of a right-hander. The 26-year-old third baseman continues to play well in his brief audition. He's hitting .333 with a .833 slugging percentage.
"Those aren't easy matchups," Padres manager Andy Green said. "The first couple games we soft-served him some lefties he matched up well against. Today wasn't that case.
"We're obviously intrigued by him. We're looking forward to watching him more in this next week."
Desmond's dash:Ian Desmond has been a bright spot on Colorado's rough trip, going 6-for-15. He created a run in the second inning with his speed and patience. He walked, stole second and advanced to third before scoring on catcher Rocky Gale's errant throw into left field.
"I needed to get to first base, find my way around the bag and score a run for the team," Desmond said. "We have a lot of guys having success this year, we have had success as a team. It's sticking with what you do."
"I tried not swinging. I tried swinging left-handed in the cage. I tried swinging a golf club. I tried literally everything. There's literally nothing that you could say for me to try that I didn't try going through this." -- Myers, on how he attempted to break out of a slump during which he hit .209 from May to August before hitting .316 in SeptemberMore >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Solarte's home run was the Padres' 88th of 2017 at Petco Park, setting a franchise record for most long balls at home in a season. Villanueva's blast extended the record to 89.
By winning the season's final road game, the Rockies improved to 41-40 away from Coors Field, which matches the best road record in club history (2009).
Rockies: Right-hander Tyler Chatwood (8-13, 4.56 ERA) will start against the Marlins on Monday at 6:40 p.m. MT in the opener of the Rockies' final six-game homestand. Chatwood is 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA in four starts since returning to the starting rotation on Sept. 5.
Padres: The Padres embark on their final road trip of the season, beginning with three games in Los Angeles. Left-hander Travis Wood will open the series against the Dodgers at 7:10 p.m. PT Monday, making his last start of 2017.
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 @harding_at_mlb and** like his Facebook page**.
Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.