Jordan Lyles, who entered the game with a 1.25 ERA at home this season, allowed a career-high six walks in 3⅔ innings en route to his worst performance of the season. Lyles surrendered six earned runs on five hits -- including a homer -- and threw only half of his 92 pitches for strikes. He looked shaky from the start, allowing three walks and hitting a batter in the Padres' two-run first inning. Troy Tulowitzki got a run back for the Rockies in the bottom half of the frame with a towering solo home run, but Lyles surrendered four more runs before being lifted in favor of Tommy Kahnle in the fourth.
Lyles seemed to be going to his hands a lot more than usual, perhaps indicating that he wasn't getting much of a grip on the ball. But Rockies manager Walt Weiss said after the game that nothing was physically wrong with his pitcher.
"He didn't have anything bothering him," quipped Weiss. "He had a hard time getting feel and struggled with throwing strikes."
Kahnle and Matt Belisle kept San Diego off the board for the next three innings, giving the Rockies' offense a chance to chip away at a 6-1 deficit. Carlos Gonzalez plated a run in the fourth with a well-hit sacrifice fly and Jordan Pacheco followed with a run-scoring single an inning later.
Now down 6-3, the Rockies had runners on first and second with nobody out after DJ LeMahieu reached on a bunt single, and Weiss called upon Charlie Culberson to pinch hit in a situation that might have called for a bunt -- and certainly one in which past Colorado teams have implemented small-ball strategy. Culberson wound up swinging away and bouncing into a double play (that became a theme), effectively ending the Rockies' chances at getting even closer.
"We're down three and we're trying to go for a big inning right there, not really trying to get one run," Weiss explained, adding that the team was a little short-handed as a result of Brandon Barnes' bout with food poisoning. It was a good call by Weiss to have Culberson swing away but an unfavorable result.
Still, the Rockies weren't done. Gonzalez came through in a big way in his next at-bat in the sixth, crushing a double to center field that scored Drew Stubbs and Troy Tulowitzki, who combined for six hits.
Colorado had a chance for more in that inning, but Jordan Pacheco grounded into a double play with runners on first and second to end the threat. That was a familiar theme for the Rockies on Saturday; the team grounded into five twin-killings, tying a single-game franchise record.
Even with a pile of once-promising but now-dead rallies, the Rox found themselves down by only one run entering the seventh. That didn't last for long.
After two quick outs, Chris Martin served up a two-strike single to Yasmani Grandal, setting the stage for a pinch-hit, two-run home run from the oft-injured but dangerous Carlos Quentin. Colorado got base hits from Stubbs and Charlie Blackmon with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, but Tulowitzki's line shot to third base was snagged by a diving Chase Headley, thwarting yet another Rockies rally.
Gonzalez doubled again to lead off the eighth against Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit, but Nolan Arenado and Justin Morneau whiffed on pitches in the dirt and Jordan Pacheco lined out to center, stranding CarGo in scoring position.
Colorado went down in order the following inning, giving former Rockie Huston Street his 13th save of the season.
Lyles' poor performance and the unhealthy amount of double plays were the story of the game, but there were some positives for the Rockies on Saturday. Tulowitzki got his batting average back to an even .400 by scorching the ball every time he stepped to the plate and Gonzalez clobbered a pair of doubles and looked like his old self at the plate, taking pitches on the outer half to the opposite field and doing so with authority. Rex Brothers also had his best outing in quite some time, striking out a pair of batters in a scoreless eighth inning.
Those things will have to continue to go right on Sunday, and the Rockies will have to get much better pitching, in order for the team to avoid losing a series at home for the first time in 2014. The task was made exponentially easier when the Padres placed Andrew Cashner, who was supposed to start the series finale, on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow injury.
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