Arenado caps wild night with walk-off homer
Rockies give up early six-run lead only to win in dramatic fashion
DENVER -- For nearly 20 years since it opened in 1995, Coors Field has proved the axiom codified into law nearly a half century earlier by Captain Edward Murphy: If anything can go wrong, it will.
Friday night, the Rockies and Padres put Murphy's Law to the test yet again, as the Rockies staked out an 8-2 lead after two innings, chasing San Diego's starter from the field in the third, only to see their comfortable cushion disappear along with every ray of daylight dividing the two teams, as the Padres staged a five-run rally in the seventh inning to tie the game at 9.
"It looked like one of those games from the '90s," manager Walt Weiss said. "It's tough to give up a lead like we did, but it had a happy ending."
Any sense of suspense, any threat of extra innings with a depleted bench and bullpen, and any hint of deja vu after losing in 12 innings Thursday night were banished when Rockies rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado led off the bottom of the ninth and drilled the third pitch he saw high into the left-field seats for his first career walk-off home run, handing a 10-9 victory to the Rockies.
"There's nothing better than hitting a walk-off, man," Arenado said. "I hit a couple in the Minor Leagues, and they're the funnest thing. But doing it up here is obviously real special.
"I wasn't really excited to go to extra innings, so I'm happy I was able to get one out there and help us win the game."
The Rockies erupted out of the gate Friday, with Dexter Fowler hitting a leadoff triple into the right-center alley. The flip-flop with Eric Young Jr. -- reversing their customary 1-2 roles at the top of the order -- seemed to be working, although Young's bunt found Fowler trapped between third and home and tagged out after a 1-2-5 rundown.
The middle of the order kept the rally going, however, with Carlos Gonzalez drawing a walk and Troy Tulowitzki knocking an RBI single to center, before Todd Helton bounced a double off the top of the right-field scoreboard to plate both runners.
Colorado kept at it in the second, adding on when Jorge De La Rosa started a one-out rally with a seeing-eye single that went through the hole between short and third. Fowler reached on a bunt single to Padres starter Edinson Volquez. Young grounded into a force at third, and a Gonzalez triple down the right-field line plated two more runs. Volquez hit Tulowitzki on his left shoulder blade with a pitch, and successive singles from Helton and Arenado scored two more runs. Volquez walked DJ LeMahieu, then watched as Yorvit Torrealba beat out a slow roller to third to plate the fifth run of the inning.
"First, you've got to throw your fastball for strikes," Volquez said. "You've got to command your fastball. Tonight, there were a lot of mistakes they hit."
The big lead gave De La Rosa plenty of wiggle room, and he made the most of it. He lasted five innings and gave up 11 hits and no walks while striking out five and leaving with a 9-4 lead.
"You never get safe, especially the way they were swinging the bat," De La Rosa said of the Padres. "I didn't have my best stuff today. They made me work a lot. That's why they got those hits against me. When I tried to throw a strike, I left it up, and I paid for it."
The Padres started extracting payment with a pair of runs in the second on a two-run shot into the left-field seats from Kyle Blanks, the first home run De La Rosa had yielded in 41 1/3 innings. They put another run on the board in the third when Everth Cabrera knocked a one-out double to left, and Carlos Quentin drove him home with a single.
The Rockies made quick work of Volquez, knocking him out in the third after Fowler notched his third hit in three innings, a single to left. Gonzalez hit another triple into the right-field corner to send Fowler home and Volquez to an early shower.
Gonzalez exited the game in the seventh, after re-aggravating a lingering knee issue and rolling his ankle in the follow-through of a sixth-inning swing that resulted in a groundout to shortstop.
The Padres added a run on three consecutive singles in the fifth, then rallied for four runs in five at-bats to open the seventh against reliever Rob Scahill. Scahill hit Chase Headley, the first batter he faced, then gave up back-to-back homers to left to Quentin and Jedd Gyorko. Blanks doubled to left, and Cameron Maybin drove him home with a single up the middle, chasing Scahill from the game.
"We were trying to get through the inning," Weiss said of Scahill's struggles. "Josh [Outman] was up, trying to get ready. It was a night where our pen was light to begin with."
Outman fared a bit better, walking two and yielding an infield single, but recording two outs and giving way to Wilton Lopez with the bases loaded and the score tied at 9. Quentin hit a hard grounder to Arenado, who backhanded the ball, spun, and fired to first for the final out of an ugly inning.
"He made several outstanding plays," Weiss said of Arenado. "There are only so many superlatives you can use for his defense. We've seen it since he's been up here. He's some kind of third baseman."
Matt Belisle took over in the eighth, pitching two perfect innings for the win. He was aggressive and determined against a Padres lineup that dealt the Rockies a devastating defeat Thursday night.
"I can't lie, emotionally it was a heck of a win, especially how the game went yesterday," Belisle said. "To give up the lead like we did and then stay in the fight and have a big home run from the young kid, it's an emotional win.
"We've been very good at closing the night -- win, lose, ugly or easy -- and that's what I'm most proud of with this team."