Cook's sizzling start not enough for Rox
Righty tosses nine innings of one-run ball, but Rockies fall
SAN DIEGO -- Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook didn't sound like it, even though there's no getting around the fact his luck is bad. Sunday afternoon's 2-1, 10-inning loss to the Padres at PETCO Park in front of a crowd of 27,086 was a prime example.
Cook was four outs from his first career shutout before Jose Cruz Jr.'s home run, which was to a bona fide home run what a technical knockout is to a lights-out punch. He still held the Padres to that one run and five hits in nine innings, but didn't receive credit for a complete game.
The game, and the Rockies' second straight loss in the last at-bat to the Padres, wasn't complete until Khalil Greene tripled and Kevin Kouzmanoff singled, both off LaTroy Hawkins (0-2) with one out in the 10th. The Padres won the last two of a series in which all three games were decided by one run.
Cook, who left with a lead on Opening Day, only to watch the Rockies lose -- and who had the eighth-worst run support in baseball last season -- had just one run to work with on Sunday, refused to look at the day as a complete loss.
Cook has two no-decisions, but he is one reason Rockies starters are 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA through six games.
"It's definitely positive," Cook said. "I faced a great pitcher today in Jake Peavy. He's pitched well his whole career. I know being a No. 1 starter, I'm going to face a lot of tough games like this. If I pitch like I did today, more times than not we'll get a win."
The Rockies led, 1-0, on Brad Hawpe's fourth-inning RBI single off Peavy, and Cook, who struck out four, was becoming more efficient by the inning.
But Cruz, who had a weak grounder and a strikeout in two previous at-bats, muscled a changeup to right field, the shallowest part of the park. Hawpe leaped, but the ball hit the hand of a fan who had reached above the chain-link fence atop the wall and deflected the ball onto the warning track.
It was ruled a homer under PETCO Park's ground rules because it would have hit above the yellow line atop the actual outfield wall.
Cook lowered his ERA at PETCO Park from 1.73 in his first four starts to 1.54. In his previous start, May 30, he held the Padres to two runs in seven innings, but was hung with a 2-0 loss. But Sunday was no time for lament.
"When you tell a guy, 'You pitched an incredible ballgame,' you're offering encouragement to him," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "You're not going to see them any better than that. He knows how well he pitched. His teammates know how well he pitched."
Cook is encouraged by the fact he's gone from a one-trick, sinker-or-bust pitcher to one who has had four pitches working in his last two starts. And his final action Sunday was his best.
He gave up singles to Brian Giles and Adrian Gonzalez to put runners at the corners with one out in the ninth, but forced a Josh Bard double-play grounder to keep the game going.
"In those situations in the past, I've tended to leave the ball up a little bit more," Cook said. "I was able to just take a deep breath, [keep] my composure and know that this is really it. As much pressure as it sounds, I was able to relax and make a pitch."
Teams like the Padres, who have won two straight division crowns, take advantage of such strong pitching.
Peavy gave up one run and five hits in seven innings, and turned the game over to a bullpen that hasn't given up a run in 2007. Cla Meredith, Trevor Hoffman and Scott Linebrink (1-0) threw three perfect innings Sunday.
"We'll get there," Hawkins said. "Next time we see them, you never know. They might not be able to get anybody out. That's how the game is."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.