SAN DIEGO — Two solid starts equaled a split decision for the Rockies on Saturday at Petco Park.
After losing the first game 2-1 in 10 innings in excruciating fashion, the Rockies rebounded for a 6-2 victory in Game 2 of the doubleheader behind another solid start by lefty Kyle Freeland.
“My main focus was just to put the team in a position to win,” said Freeland, who’s shaved his ERA from a 6.16 at the end of April to a 4.39. “Hopefully that means I can give us at least six innings every time out.”
Colorado also received another stellar performance from Alex Colomé, who pitched a scoreless eighth. The right-hander has pitched 15 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, dating back to May 11. He’s only walked one batter during that scoreless run.
The Rockies, who’ve struggled to put together timely hits on the road, sent 10 men to the plate in their five-run third inning, chasing rookie left-hander MacKenzie Gore from the game. The key hits were RBI singles by C.J. Cron, Randal Grichuk and catcher Elias Diaz.
“Good for the offense,” manager Bud Black said. “The way we came out showed a little bit of resolve for our guys. We had some good at-bats and took our walks. This guy is a good young pitcher with good stuff and I thought our guys were intent on every pitch.”
In his last start, Gore posted his third consecutive quality start, improved to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.60 in San Diego’s 4-0 victory at Milwaukee. He entered Saturday’s game riding a 15-inning scoreless streak, but he walked four and gave up six runs on five hits in his 2 1/3 innings of work on Saturday.
After a roller coaster start to his season, Freeland is back on track. The lefty shackled San Diego’s bats for six innings, giving up two runs on three hits. He walked two and fanned three.
It was Freeland’s second solid start in a row, coming on the heels of his June 4 start against Atlanta at Coors Field when he pitched a season-high seven innings, allowing one run on five hits, walking one and striking out three.
“Kyle wasn’t as crisp as his last game, but it goes to show you that he can make a pitch when he needs to and gets back in the count when he needs to,” Black said.
Saturday, for a change, Freeland received some run support. Entering the game he had received two or fewer runs of support in eight of his 11 starts.
Colorado lost the opener despite a brilliant start by rookie right-hander Ryan Feltner and more stellar work by its bullpen. The sudden end came without the Padres getting a hit in the 10th inning.
With two outs, reliever Carlos Estevez threw a wild pitch and Padres “ghost runner” Manny Machado broke for third from second base. Diaz threw wildly to third for an error and Machado scored the winning run.
Black, while lamenting the Rockies’ lack of a clutch hit — they were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position — was impressed by Feltner’s start and said that the right-hander would remain with the team going forward, rather than being sent back to Triple-A Albuquerque. Feltner could be used as either a starter or as a long reliever.
“What I liked was the fastball aggressiveness, and he had good use of the slider,” Black said. “He had a couple of curveballs and a couple of changeups in the mix, so he used his arsenal.”
Feltner, making his fifth start this season and the seventh of his career, said that Saturday’s game will help him going forward.
“This is a great environment here,” he said of Petco Park. “It’s a great team and they have a good lineup. So being able to see how my stuff plays against a team like this is great.”
Feltner got some well-deserved hugs from his teammates following his afternoon of work. Over six innings, the rookie right-hander allowed one run on two hits and walked just one.
The lone snag in his day was giving up a one-out solo home run to Trent Grisham in the third. Grisham sent Feltner’s 96 mph first-pitch fastball into the right-field seats to give San Diego a 1-0 lead.
Feltner, who trimmed his ERA from 5.85 to 4.85, could have blinked in the sixth but he didn’t. After giving up a two-out single to Jurickson Profar and walking Jake Cronenworth, Feltner faced Machado, the MVP candidate, for the third time in the game. Feltner threw a crisp 0-2 slider that Machado popped up Cron at first, ending the threat.
“He’s a great hitter, so I knew that I had to adjust my plan a little bit,” Feltner said. “I knew I had to make the right pitches in the right spots. Buddy signaled from the dugout to take some deep breaths and relax. That was big for me.”
Black said that all three pitches to Machado were in near-perfect spots.
While the Rockies out-hit San Diego, 8-3, they continued a trend that has haunted them all season. Namely, the lack of a big hit in a big moment.
Colorado tied the game in the sixth on Brendan Rodger’s RBI double off right-hander Nick Martinez to score Charlie Blackmon, who struck out but reached first on Martinez’s wild pitch. Martinez made an emergency start in place of righty Mike Clevinger after Clevinger was placed on the COVID-19 injured list.
The Rockies will try to earn a split in the four-game series when the teams play Sunday afternoon at Petco.
Rockies RHP Germán Márquez (2-5, 6.49 ERA) at Padres LHP Blake Snell (2-3, 3.99)
2:10 p.m. Sunday, Petco Park
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 850 AM/94.1 FM
The Rockies are hopeful that Marquez turned the corner in his last start when he overcame one bad inning to pitch six innings and pick up his second win of the season. He held the Giants to three runs on four hits and struck out seven in Colorado’s 5-3 victory at San Francisco. Still, the right-hander has a 7.17 ERA over his last 10 starts. He owns the second-highest ERA among qualified major league starters and has the fourth-highest batting average against (.298). Marquez is 8-3 in 15 games (13 starts) against the Padres. He’s 4-2 with a 3.88 ERA in eight games (seven starts) at Petco Park.
Snell is coming off an awful start in which he needed 43 pitches to get out of the first inning against the Mets. It was tied for the most pitches in the first inning in baseball this season and the most by a Padres pitcher since Andrew Cashner in 2016. The Padres ended up losing, 11-5, at Petco Park. Snell threw just 59 of his 95 pitches for strikes and walked three batters in the first inning. He allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in four-plus innings. He struck out four. In five career starts vs. the Rockies, Snell is 2-0 with a 3.42 ERA and 1.215 WHIP.
Trending: After pitching a clean inning in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader, closer Daniel Bard had allowed no earned runs over his last nine outings, going 2-0 with three saves, one hit allowed, six walks and 11 strikeouts.
At issue: After losing Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader at San Diego, the Rockies had played 34 games without picking up back-to-back wins, the longest drought in franchise history.
Monday: Off day
Tuesday: Guardians RHP Shane Bieber (3-3, 2.91) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (2-3, 4.83), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM