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Freeland struggles in 2018 debut as Rox fall

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeland looked in control on Tuesday night at Petco Park -- except for the two times he faced the Padres' Christian Villanueva.

Freeland coughed up two Villanueva homers, both on offspeed pitches, and ultimately found himself slapped with the loss in an 8-4 defeat to the previously winless Padres at Petco Park.

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SAN DIEGO -- Rockies left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeland looked in control on Tuesday night at Petco Park -- except for the two times he faced the Padres' Christian Villanueva.

Freeland coughed up two Villanueva homers, both on offspeed pitches, and ultimately found himself slapped with the loss in an 8-4 defeat to the previously winless Padres at Petco Park.

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But before he was done, Villanueva made his career night a three-homer game with a three-run shot off Antonio Senzatela. Villanueva became the eighth Padres player and second rookie to hit three homers in the same game. The last time a San Diego player hit three clouts in a game was Hunter Renfroe, last season on Sept. 20 as a rookie.

Villanueva's homers off Freeland were solo shots in the second -- on a slider that ended up bouncing above the third balcony of the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field -- and fourth innings. Freeland was charged with four runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings, but one guy turned it into a night he couldn't celebrate.

"I felt my command and everything was there tonight," Freeland said. "To Villanueva, the first one was a backdoor slider that came back across the plate. From looking at video, it looked like he was sitting offspeed. The second one, I feel, was a pretty quality changeup. He was able to get the head out and around and elevate it to left."

Freeland admitted he didn't have his new curveball and barely threw it. Rockies manager Bud Black thought Freeland was solid, while admitting the southpaw's secondary pitches needed to be better.

"Overall, Kyle threw the ball well," Black said. "He didn't throw a lot of curveballs. We've going to continue to work on that. We're going to continue to work on the changeup. The second home run was on the changeup, a little hard, in the high 80s. We've got to get that separation of velocity."

Of Villanueva, Black said, "The kid's got power -- he hit a homer against us last year. Tonight, he was locked in. He got some pitches in the middle of the plate, and he's got pull power."

Video: COL@SD: Villanueva launches his third homer to left

Black went to reliever Scott Oberg in relief of Freeland in the sixth inning, and Oberg promptly hit Villanueva to load the bases. Freddy Galvis then delivered a two-run single that gave the Padres the lead for good. Villanueva scored the inning's final run on a deft hook slide past catcher Chris Iannetta after Carlos Asuaje hit a topper to Oberg.

The Rockies experienced the same feeling of lost opportunity the Padres did on Monday night, when starter Chad Bettis searched for his command but weaved through five innings and won. Between the third and fourth innings Tuesday, Padres starter Tyson Ross gave up five hits and walked two and was fortunate to hold the Rockies to three runs.

But Ross retired the last eight Rockies he faced and completed six innings in his first start for the Padres in almost two years.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No way, says Jose: The Rockies scored twice in the third on Nolan Arenado's two-run double and tacked on another in the fourth on a single by Iannetta. In both cases, they could've -- and maybe should've -- had more. But Black didn't apologize for aggressive baserunning that didn't pay off..

On Arenado's bases-loaded double, Jose Pirela chased the ball down in the left-field corner and made a nice throw to Galvis, who erased DJ LeMahieu at the plate with a spot-on relay. In the fourth, Pirela fielded Iannetta's single and delivered a strike to third base cutting down Trevor Story. Pirela became the first Padres outfielder with two assists in a game since Melvin Upton Jr. in 2015.

Video: COL@SD: Pirela throws to nab Story at third base

In the first inning of Monday night's 7-4 victory, Charlie Blackmon scored from third on Arenado's liner straight at Pirela. A good throw -- not one that went up the third-base line -- would have beaten Blackmon. But Black adheres to the aggressive base-running philosophy of Angels manager Mike Scioscia. In the Angels' 2002 World Series-winning season, they tied for ninth in the Majors with 44 outs on the bases and tied for the third most at the plate with 23.

"We're going to push it on the bases," Black said. "You saw in previous games where we did it and it paid off for us.

"Pirela is a guy we thought we could test, and with Trevor going, he made a nice throw to third base. We're going to continue to push it, make guys make plays against us. In the long haul, the pressure we apply to other teams, they'll feel it and it'll work to our advantage."

Video: COL@SD: Pirela, Galvis relay for the out at home

SOUND SMART FOR YOUR FRIENDS
Villanueva became just the third player since 1908 to have a three-homer game within his first 14 career Major League games. The others were the Phillies' Bobby Estella, in his 10th game on Sept. 4, 1994, and the Giants' Jarrett Parker in his 14th game, Sept. 26, 2015.

WHAT'S NEXT
Arenado is 10-for-16 with a home run and five RBIs against left-hander Clayton Richard, the Padres' starter in the third of four games between the Friars and Rockies on Wednesday at 8:10 p.m. MT at Petco Park. While Richard pitched well on Opening Day only to take a hard-luck loss against the Brewers, Rox starter Jon Gray gave up three runs in the first and lasted four innings in a loss to the D-backs.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Kyle Freeland