Rockies' early charge holds up vs. Padres

July 18th, 2017

DENVER -- Charlie Blackmon opened the bottom of the first with a homer off the face of the third deck and right-hander tied a career high with nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings as the Rockies defeated the Padres, 9-6, Monday night at Coors Field to pull to a half-game behind the D-backs for the first National League Wild Card.

Blackmon's 22nd homer of the season came off Padres starter (4-5), who yielded seven runs (five earned) on six hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings. drove in three runs and added his eighth homer of the season, a solo shot in the seventh, to help the Rockies to their second straight victory -- something that hadn't happened since a six-game streak from June 14-20.

"It has felt like a while," Story said. "We've been swinging it well and pitching well these last two games. We'll see what we can put together."

Story reinvigorated since All-Star break

Marquez (7-4) -- mixing his fastball and breaking pitches with the best changeup he has displayed all season -- gave up a two-run homer to dead center in the second inning and a RBI single in the seventh but otherwise shut down the Padres -- who had won their previous two games and 12 of their last 19. Marquez, a rookie, also fanned nine Padres on June 2 at Petco Park, but took an 8-5 loss.

"My fastball, at first, wasn't working as well, but when I go to the third inning I had really good command of it," Marquez said.

Manager Bud Black said Marquez's pitch mix, especially the ability to go offspeed when behind in the count, showed growth.

"Those are the things that good pitchers do, and he'll need to do that moving forward," Black said.

Blash's tear is hard to ignore

After Marquez left the game, the Padres went to work against the Rockies' bullpen. -- filling in for again -- made it three straight games with a homer when he hit an eighth-inning leadoff shot off Jake McGee. It was only his second hit batting right-handed all season.

"You never put a guy in the lineup the first time in a while and expect him to homer in three straight games," said Padres manager Andy Green. "But he's got that kind of power. He's got it from both sides of the plate."

The homer sparked a three-run rally that saw San Diego put the potential tying run on first base and Colorado exhaust four relievers, as , and Mike Dunn followed McGee. Dunn got Asuaje to fly out to center to end the threat with the Rockies holding an 8-6 lead.

Bullpen struggles demonstrate Rockies' need

Closer Greg Holland put down the ninth with his Majors-leading 29th save in 30 opportunities.Holland fanned the first two hitters, yielded 's double, then ended it with a grounder.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Quality time: The Rockies went into Monday 6-15 since June 21, and lack of quality at-bats was a chief reason. In those 21 games, according to Statcast™, the Rockies had a .221 expected batting average (xBA) -- third-lowest in the Majors and ahead of only the Padres' .208 in the NL over that time. But the Rockies' five-run third was full of at-bats that saw them swing at strikes and lay off balls. Blackmon, and walked, and the big hit was Story's two-run double. The Rockies forced Perdomo to exhaust 36 pitches, though shortstop 's error to load the bases with no outs didn't help.

"Yesterday, we had some good at-bats in New York, and we talked about it in our hitters' meeting -- about the at-bats yesterday and trying to carry that over," Black said.

Execution kills Padres' chances: Reliever and leadoff hitter singled to open the fifth, with the Padres trailing, 7-2, and needing a rally. The latter hit possibly could have been a double, but Stammen, unused to baserunning, didn't get a good read and had to stop at second. Marquez grasped control of the inning when he fielded Asuaje's bunt and threw to third in time to erase Stammen. Then Marquez completed a scoreless inning by striking out looking and Sanchez on a check-swing.

"Down five, he's trying to put another guy on base," Green said of Asuaje's bunt. "If Manny Margot's on second base, that play probably works. But with Craig Stammen on second base, that's a little overambitious."

QUOTABLE

"Whether it was [starting] at Coors Field for the first time or the long layoff, he clearly wasn't his typical self. He didn't have his normal sink, wasn't locating much of anything. He got squared up a couple times in the first inning, and after that he kind of pitched away from contact." -- Green, on Perdomo

"The last couple days, we've done a really good job of putting good at-bats together. And when you do that, you're gonna be able to take advantage of guys that don't have their best stuff or make a mistake or walk someone here or there." -- Blackmon, on how the improved approach worked against Perdomo

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Sanchez had never homered in consecutive games before his run of three straight this week. The Padres' backup backstop has 10 hits this season. Six have left the yard.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW

With one out in the fifth, Tony Wolters lifted a popup into shallow left, leaving Story (on first base at the time) in no-man's land. Uncertain whether the ball would be caught, Story paused halfway to second base. When Jose Pirela made a running catch and throw, Story had to scamper back to first. Initially, he was ruled safe, but the call was reversed after a manager challenge.

Leading off the bottom of the eighth, Rockies catcher Tony Wolters struck out on a foul tip, but Wolters shook his hand in pain as if he'd been hit by a pitch. Bud Black asked the umpires to initiate a crew chief review, but replays were inconclusive and the call would stand. The strikeout was non-consequential, however, as the Rockies scored a run later that inning on DJ LeMahieu's sacrifice fly, padding their lead to 9-6.

WHAT'S NEXT

Padres: The Padres have fallen in love with 's three-pitch mix, and it's easy to see why. But the rookie right-hander has struggled with command over his first eight big league outings. Lamet starts the middle game Tuesday at Coors Field with first pitch slated for 5:40 p.m. PT.

Rockies: The Rockies are recalling to make his first Major League start since June 22 for Tuesday's 6:40 p.m. MT matchup with the Padres. Senzatela was demoted in early July after shifting to the bullpen. He made one start for Triple-A Albuquerque, throwing 60 pitches in 3 1/3 innings while giving up one run on four hits.

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