Koshansky's homer lifts Livan, Rockies
Hernandez allows just three hits in five shutout innings for win
DENVER -- To those who still think Coors Field is nothing more than a launching pad for big league hitters to blast home runs into outer orbit, bear witness to the Rockies' 1-0 win over the Padres on Wednesday.
It was the Rockies' third 1-0 win this season and second in four days. They also beat the Dodgers by that score in 10 innings on Sunday.
Games like these used to be a tall tale, but the humidor was put into use during the 2002 season, and Coors Field morphed into a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
"It's incredible," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "And the perception should change. It's gone on for a while now. All you've got to do is pay attention and look at the home runs per ballpark, and we're not even near the top anymore."
Sunday's score seemed more plausible, given that future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux was facing 16-game winner Aaron Cook.
Wednesday's gem was much less expected. Padres starter Josh Geer made just his fourth career start, and Rockies starter Livan Hernandez was 1-3 with a 9.85 ERA in six games with Colorado.
But both were on top of their games Wednesday, and another duel in downtown Denver ensued.
Hernandez (12-11) breezed through five innings, giving up just three hits and two walks. Geer was equally effective until he ran into Joe Koshansky with two outs in the fourth.
Geer left a fastball over the plate on a 3-2 count, and Koshansky hammered it over the left-center-field fence to put the Rockies on top.
"I knew he was probably going to throw a fastball," said Koshansky, who faced Geer several times this season in Triple-A. "I just tried to hit it hard."
Koshansky was a star at Colorado Springs this year, hitting .300 with 31 home runs and leading all of Minor Leaguers with 121 RBIs.
But with Todd Helton and Garrett Atkins occupying first base, Koshansky has had trouble breaking through with the Rockies. He made just his seventh start of the season Wednesday and his first since being recalled on Sept. 2.
The former Virginia standout has been nearly all or nothing at the plate. Three of his six hits have gone over the fence, and he's struck out in 13 of his 30 at-bats.
"The game speeds up, especially when you're not playing every day," he said. "You've got to take a deep breath and try to calm yourself down a little bit."
That was Geer's only blip in five innings.
It was by far Hernandez's best outing with the Rockies this year. The 13-year veteran has been a disappointment since being acquired off waivers from Minnesota on Aug. 6. He was demoted from the rotation last week but made a spot start when scheduled starter Jeff Francis was shut down with shoulder discomfort.
"I don't have to show my ability to nobody," Hernandez said. "People who know me know I'm the kind of pitcher who can pitch no matter what."
The Padres' only serious threat came in the seventh, when they had runners at second and third with two outs. But Edgar Gonzalez hit a slow roller to third, and Ian Stewart made a barehanded stab and threw a dart to first to end the inning.
Brian Fuentes picked up his 28th save by pitching a scoreless ninth. The lefty is perfect in his past 15 save opportunities since July 7, the third-longest active streak in the Majors.
"This is the best he's ever pitched for us since he's been here," Hurdle said. "It's very black and white for me. His fastball command has never been this good."
Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.