Rockies' late-game heroics garner win
Eighth-inning homers by Holliday and Hawpe propel victory
DENVER -- The Padres' relievers can psyche out hitters before they even enter a game. So Brad Hawpe had to fight that sinking feeling on Monday night.
"I looked at their bullpen list in the fifth or sixth inning to see who all they had that could be coming in, just thinking ahead," Hawpe said. "And I said, 'Man, they've got all those guys? They're tough.'"
Nonetheless, the Rockies made an eighth-inning comeback, with Matt Holliday knocking a three-run homer off Scott Linebrink to tie the game and Hawpe knocking a two-run shot off Cla Meredith for a 7-5 victory at Coors Field in front of 31,047.
The Rockies opened a key seven-game homestand against the top two teams in the National League West. It was the first of three with the second-place Padres, then will come four against the first-place Dodgers, who are 5 1/2 games ahead of the Rockies.
The victory had an improbable element, considering the accomplishment of the Padres' relievers. However, they are slumping. The Padres' relief staff has given up five runs in three straight games, after giving up that many runs just once previously all season, and the club is 4-7 since the All-Star break.
Such rallies are becoming commonplace at home, where the Rockies have won 13 of their last 15 and 15 of their last 18. Even after being shut out while losing their last two games, and dropping three of four to the Nationals, they were confident going into the late innings.
"I don't really think, as players, we thought, 'Golly after our struggles in Washington, we hope we can score some runs tonight,'" Holliday said. "Just turn the page. Next day."
The early innings were difficult, and not just because Padres starter Greg Maddux held the Rockies to two runs and five hits in six innings, and exited with a 5-2 lead.
Left-hander Jeff Francis didn't have his best fastball and gave up five runs and 10 hits in six innings. Taylor Buchholz (5-3) held the Padres to one hit in two innings, and Manny Corpas (five saves) yielded a hit in the ninth but struck out two.
Francis yielded a Milton Bradley three-run homer -- a Rocky Mountain atmosphere-aided pop to left field on a changeup -- in the fifth inning, and a Kevin Kouzmanoff solo shot to center on a fastball in the seventh.
But, as has been the case all season, but especially lately, the Rockies won despite Francis' struggles. Monday's was the team's 14th victory in his 21 starts.
"It's awesome," Francis said. "You can hardly explain it. You look at the energy that was out there."
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Linebrink opened the eighth by hitting pinch-hitter Cory Sullivan in the rib cage -- leaving an ugly red mark and the imprint of the baseball's stitches.
Kazuo Matsui, who went 0-for-3 and is now slumping at 3-for-31, drew a one-out walk before Holliday drilled a changeup from Linebrink (3-3) into the left-field stands for his 17th homer of the season.
Hawpe's team-leading 18th homer of the season came after Garrett Atkins' two-out single.
"The later it gets, the clock's ticking, sand's running out," said Hawpe, who has homered on half of his six hits since the All-Star break. "We've got to play good. We've got to beat teams like that, if we're going to be the team we want to be."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.