DENVER -- If the Padres’ slow start to the season was perplexing, the past two weeks had reached an entirely different level. Their inconsistency had become downright baffling.
For 10 days, the Padres alternated wins and losses. In the last nine of those games, they alternated blowout wins with losses in which they scored precisely once. One day, they made their offensive capabilities abundantly clear. The next, they made you wonder whether they’d ever be able realize that potential.
The Padres desperately needed to change that trend, having won handily on Wednesday. They needed to string one quality performance on top of another. They needed, to put it simply, a game like this one.
“It means a lot,” Darvish said through Japanese interpreter Shingo Horie. “It just tells you that I’ve been able to play this long and fight, go into battle with my teammates, to be able to rack up this amount of wins.”
And so the Padres snapped their streak of alternating wins and losses and have their first consecutive victories since May 25-26.
Darvish’s 100th win made him just the seventh player to notch win No. 100 while pitching for the Padres and the first since Shawn Estes in 2008. Darvish wasn’t at his dominant best -- allowing four runs over 5 1/3 innings while striking out six. But he was sharp enough to handle the altitude and keep the Rockies off-balance for most of the night.
From there, Darvish didn’t mess around. He limited the Rockies to one run over the first five innings, before tiring in a sixth inning in which he surrendered three. But the Padres were well on their way to making it an even 100 wins for Darvish – on top of the 93 games he won with Japan’s Nippon Ham Fighters.
“That’s fantastic,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “That’s a nice little feather. He’s got a lot of feathers in his cap, but 100 wins is a nice round number for a guy that’s pitched an awful lot in Japan, as well. So, one of the great pitchers on either side. I know he’s not stopping at 100.”
Not if the Padres offense hits like this. After the three early homers, Fernando Tatis Jr. went deep in the sixth, and Brandon Dixon did so in the seventh. Jake Cronenworth had three hits. Xander Bogaerts returned to the lineup after missing four games with a sore left wrist and went 2-for-5. Every Padres starter tallied at least one hit.
The Rockies made it a game late. After Darvish's exit, Tom Cosgrove allowed two inherited runners to score (though he ran his streak of scoreless outings to begin his career to 14, the longest such streak in Padres history). Nick Martinez allowed two more runs in the eighth on Mike Moustakas' home run.
A bit too close for comfort perhaps. Closer Josh Hader allowed the potential tying run to come to the plate in the ninth, before getting Elias Díaz to bounce into a game-ending forceout.
“It’s never really comfortable until it’s over,” Melvin said of managing with a lead at Coors Field.
When it finally was, the Padres had won two straight for the first time in two weeks. They'd rather not stop there. It has been more than a month since San Diego found itself riding a winning streak of at least three games -- not since they followed their two-game jaunt to Mexico City with a win over the Reds on May 1.
As the Padres have struggled over the past few weeks, they insisted their confidence hadn't wavered. They still felt like one of the best teams in the National League. So long as they kept working, the results would come.
“Everybody in here’s been waiting,” Grisham said. “Not ‘if’ but ‘when’ -- when it’s going to come around. It’s nice to stack two days like that on top of each other. Let’s make it three tomorrow.”