DENVER -- Although he didn't feel as though he had his best stuff or command, Rockies right-hander Jon Gray was still effective enough to throw his fourth straight quality start and his seventh in eight outings.The rookie right-hander pitched seven strong innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits
DENVER -- Although he didn't feel as though he had his best stuff or command, Rockies right-hander Jon Gray was still effective enough to throw his fourth straight quality start and his seventh in eight outings.
The rookie right-hander pitched seven strong innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits with seven strikeouts and a no walks in a 7-5 loss to the Padres.
"Jonny was real good again. He certainly did his part," manager Walt Weiss said of Gray, who was in line for his fourth straight win until Wil Myers' ninth-inning home run off reliever Jake McGee. "He did exactly what we needed him to. He went out there and did it again."
Gray was tagged for two unearned runs in the third after catcher Nick Hundley's throwing error and gave up a solo shot to Melvin Upton Jr. in the fourth. But after that he settled down to retire 11 of the next 12 batters.
Gray's key to success was going back to changing speeds effectively. In his last three innings, he threw his little-used changeup -- which he had only thrown 3 percent of the time coming into the game -- six times, getting five strikes, including a strikeout of Brett Wallace.
"That's a pitch I really can throw well in a game when there's a batter in," Gray said. In the bullpen it's not really that good. … I think it's creeping its way into the arsenal."
Gray also turned more to his slider as the game went on, and it became more effective with time. After Upton's home run, he threw the pitch 17 times, garnering four swings-and-misses, while allowing only three balls and no hits.
"I had trouble getting on top of it earlier, a few of them backed up in my favor," Gray said. "But I really got on top of it the last few innings and felt like it was strong."
Gray lowered his ERA to 4.85 on the season, but that doesn't paint the whole picture. After two disastrous starts to begin the year, he has turned the corner with a 3.73 ERA in his last eight starts as he continues to better mix his pitches.
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.