SAN DIEGO -- Ian Desmond's seventh-inning leadoff single Sunday afternoon was tantamount to the alarm going off for the Rockies' offense.
The three-run inning -- which included Chris Iannetta's two-run double, Charlie Blackmon's RBI single and some well-executed baserunning plays -- led to a 7-3 victory over the Padres at Petco Park that put the Rockies alone in second place in the National League West.
The late offensive production fit with a second-half pattern as the Rockies have kept pace with the D-backs and Dodgers. The Dodgers' 3-2 win over Arizona on Sunday put Los Angeles atop the division, a half game ahead of the Rockies. After losing the first two games of the four against the Padres with weak offensive performances, the Rockies earned a split -- and finished the road trip 3-3.
Through July 15, the Rockies didn't do much late in games. Their batting average in the seventh inning and later was .224, with a .289 on-base percentage. But from July 16, when Trevor Story's walk-off homer beat the Mariners, 4-3, through Saturday, the Rockies were hitting .254 and the OBP was elevated to .327.
"It's hard to hold this offense down three or four times in a row -- there's too much talent for the whole lineup to go 0-for-4, not be consistent and not put up runs," Iannetta said. "It's a ton of talent, a lot of good players and a lot of good players who know how to execute."
The production in the final, most important innings is one reason they've been able to win close games, or pull away late. The trait may come in handy as the Rockies prepare for a key 10-game homestand within the division, starting Monday with the Giants, then three starting Friday against the Dodgers and four starting Sept. 16 against the D-backs.
The big seventh also included a key double-steal by Desmond and Gerardo Parra, who drew a walk from losing pitcher Jacob Nix (2-3) behind Desmond's steal of second. Iannetta's double and Blackmon's single -- part of a 3-for-5 performance -- came off reliever Trey Wingenter. David Dahl homered off Miguel Diaz for an insurance run in the eighth.
"Everybody contributed today, and hopefully it'll continue into the next month," said Dahl, whose homer was his eighth this season in on-and-off starter duty.
Unlike some games that have turned out right for the Rockies, there was early execution. Blackmon doubled in the first, moved to third on a DJ LeMahieu grounder and scored on Nolan Arenado's sacrifice fly. Dahl had a sac fly in the sixth and Story doubled in a run with two outs and a 1-2 count.
"These things have to be done on a regular, consistent basis," said Rockies manager Bud Black. "Are we going to do it 100 percent of the time? No. But our percentages this month have to increase, and you win games by doing that.
"Across the board, all teams are playing the same type of game. We have to make sure offensively we're getting guys over, we're getting them in, we're getting outs when given to us on defense. All those things become very critical."
The late offense helped lefty Kyle Freeland (13-7), who labored at times but held the Padres to three runs, on seven hits, in six innings.
"I got behind a ton of hitters, constantly, which didn't help," Freeland said. "They made an adjustment to me from the last time I faced them about a week or so ago, so I did a little adjusting to them in-game, which is tough. But we were able to hold them to [three runs]."
Franmil Reyes' bases-loaded, two-run single in Freeland's 26-pitch first created a 2-1 deficit. But from there Freeland yielded just one run -- in the fourth, when Manuel Margot ended up with a double when first baseman Desmond missed a pop-up while twisting in the sun.
Freeland is 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA since Aug. 6 and the Rockies have won all six of his starts, and his 2.67 ERA since the All-Star break is the lowest second-half mark in club history.
Shortstop record: Story entered team history with his fourth-inning RBI double off Nix. It was his 69th extra-base hit, which eclipsed Troy Tulowitzki (2011) for most extra-base hits by a shortstop in club history.
Road warriors: Sunday's was the Rockies' 40th road victory -- one shy of the club's single-season record, set in 2009 and matched last season.
HE SAID IT
"To get through six and to have the offense explode there in the seventh, and throw some runs on and kind of step on their throats, it was really great to see" -- Freeland, on the help he received from the offense
Has Rockies lefty Tyler Anderson (6-7, 4.79 ERA) corrected the command issues that led to a poor August (0-4, 11.39 ERA, nine homers in five starts)? We'll find out Monday, when he faces the Giants and lefty Madison Bumgarner (5-5, 2.68) at Coors Field at 1:10 p.m MT. It'll be Anderson's first start since Aug. 26.