DENVER -- The Rockies played it meek for the better part of seven innings in Tuesday's series opener against the Padres, then put the brakes on their own eighth-inning rally by playing small ball with the heart of their order. The rally fizzled in its tracks, with the Rockies failing
DENVER -- The Rockies played it meek for the better part of seven innings in Tuesday's series opener against the Padres, then put the brakes on their own eighth-inning rally by playing small ball with the heart of their order. The rally fizzled in its tracks, with the Rockies failing to score after putting runners on second and third with one out, handing the Padres a 4-3 victory.
After opening the inning with back-to-back base hits from pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra and Charlie Blackmon, and with DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Carlos Gonzalez poised to inflict damage, manager Bud Black opted for LeMahieu -- the 2016 National League batting champ -- to lay down a bunt, advancing the runners. Predictably, the Padres walked NL Most Valuable Player candidate Arenado to load the bases, and, less predictably, Story and Gonzalez fanned and grounded to second to end the Rockies' last best shot at a game-winning rally.
"It was an effort to get a guy on third base with less than two outs with a guy that doesn't hit into a lot of double plays, has a bunch of RBIs, is hitting .292, is an All-Star," Black said of the call. "With a guy hitting behind him who's a left-handed hitter, hitting [.286], who's been an All-Star, who's swinging the bat pretty well."
Few would complain about letting LeMahieu swing away, but with the Rockies' success in late innings of late, it's hard to argue against Story and Gonzalez getting the opportunity to plate a runner from third.
"We had complete confidence we were going to come back, and it didn't happen," LeMahieu said. "When you have a situation like that, it's not always the most popular thing, but you got Nolan and Trevor coming up, CarGo, you got to give them the chance. I love that call."
Rockies starter Tyler Anderson gave up an Eric Hosmer two-run homer over the center-field wall in the top of the first, extending the Rockies' first-frame scoring gap to 109 runs for their opponents against 85 runs for the Rockies.
San Diego added on in the second on back-to-back singles from Franmil Reyes and Manuel Margot, a well-executed sacrifice bunt from starting pitcher Robbie Erlin, and a sacrifice fly from Freddy Galvis.
The Rockies lineup managed only five hits in the first seven innings, taking advantage of Blackmon's two-out triple in the third to score a pair of runs on a LeMahieu single to short and Arenado's double to center.
Chris Iannetta tied the game with his leadoff homer in the bottom of the fifth, a 436-foot shot into the left-field bleachers, but the momentum stalled as Erlin struck out three straight batters and the next nine Rockies were retired in order.
Austin Hedges reclaimed the lead for the Friars with a leadoff homer to left in the top of the sixth.
"Any time you throw a pitch that goes over the wall, you wish you could have it back, and I had a couple of those," said Anderson. "One was a cutter, right down the middle to Hosmer. It just stayed down the middle. The second one to Hedges was a good pitch, cutter down and in. Went away, away, away, we've seen him roll over that pitch a lot. Thought he was starting to dive, I thought it would be a good pitch there. He thought it was a good pitch, too, I guess."
The Rockies have outscored opponents by 74 runs from the sixth through ninth innings, but they had nothing up their sleeves in the ninth -- despite Iannetta's game-ending deep fly to the warning track -- leading to a frustrating loss to the first sub-.500 team they've faced in their last 47 games.
"I was hoping," Iannetta said. "I definitely didn't get all of it. I hit it a little bit off the end. I was hoping I had enough to hit it out."
With the loss to the last-place Padres, the Rockies are now 23-24 against teams with a losing record this season and 45-33 against teams playing .500 or better.
HE SAID IT
"We've got to win as many as we can right now. It doesn't really matter who we're playing. It's disappointing, but we need to come out and win the series the next couple days." -- LeMahieu, on losing at home to a team 19 1/2 games behind them in the standings after a 5-1 road trip against two first-place teams
Jon Gray gets the start in Wednesday's middle game of the three-game set with the Padres. The Rockies have been rolling with Gray on the mound, winning each of his last eight starts. Gray is 3-0 in that stretch, posting a 3.04 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 11 walks in 53 1/3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .214 average. He'll face fellow righty Jacob Nix in the 6:40 p.m. MT game.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.