08/31/08 9:10 PM ET
Rox can't execute against Padres
Colorado scores in ninth to tie, but Buchholz allows winner
By Ronald P. Clark / MLB.com
In the Rockies' 2-1 loss to the Padres on Sunday, one part of the game showed up, but the others couldn't hold up their end of the bargain.
Rockies' starter Jeff Francis could not have done much more. He went seven innings, allowing one run on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts on 109 pitches. Francis and manager Clint Hurdle felt like it was the lefty's best performance of the year.
"Every loss is difficult," Hurdle said. "Obviously, when you start running out of games, they have more meaning. We talked about window of opportunity last night. We didn't do a lot last night to put ourselves in position to win the game. Today, it's hard, just because your starting pitcher went out there and battled a guy that probably had more electricity but not really more efficiency as far as getting people out and putting zeros on the board. It was his best effort of the season for me."
But what the Rockies couldn't counter was that Francis' counterpart, the Padres' Jake Peavy, would be even better.
In eight shutout innings, Peavy gave up five hits, walked two and struck out a season-high 13 batters.
"It was like I was coming off the field and then going right back out," Francis said. "He was having 1-2-3 innings. I don't think I had any, but he was fantastic today, there is no doubt about that."
The continuous back and forth between the two pitchers continued until the fifth inning, when the Padres' Luis Rodriguez was able to put the Padres on the board with an RBI double. Peavy scored on the play after hitting a one-out single of his own two batters earlier.
The way Peavy was pitching, a one-run lead seemed like it would be enough to give the Padres a series victory. But the Rockies kept fighting. And when they saw that Peavy had left the game after the eighth inning and closer Trevor Hoffman was on the mound for the Padres, they made it interesting.
Brad Hawpe struck a one-out single, Garrett Atkins walked and Chris Iannetta had a pinch-hit two-out single to tie the game.
The Rockies had gotten to the Padres' future Hall of Fame closer, giving him his first blown save opportunity since June 1. They were now in position to send the game into extra innings and steal a game and the series from the Padres.
But reliever Taylor Buchholz gave up three hits in the ninth inning, including a walk-off RBI single by Rodriguez.
"The whole series he was doing his job with a clutch hit here and there," Buchholtz said of Rodriguez. "He really just had a good series against us."
The bullpen couldn't come through in the end, but it wasn't the only facet of the game that struggled.
In the seventh inning, Willy Taveras looked to bunt on two strikes but was unsuccessful, which left Troy Tulowitzki on first when Scott Podsednik hit a single that advanced Tulowitzki to third. But Clint Barmes flied out to end the inning, leaving Tulowitzki stranded.
Behind Francis, there were multiple defensive lapses, including a fourth inning that put the Padres' Chase Headley on base via an error by third baseman Ian Stewart. There was also a double by Edgar Gonzalez that was aided by left fielder Matt Holliday losing the ball in the sun and dropping it.
Unlike with Taveras, neither defensive play came back to haunt the Rockies, as Francis was able to pitch out of those situations, but they were a part of the small things that the Rockies did not accomplish.
"We didn't help ourselves in anything," Hurdle said. "The lack of execution late hurt. We have to be able to get signs, we've got to be able to do small ball."
Ronald P. Clark is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.