baseball

Padres Use 9th Inning Rally to Beat Rockies

Tatis Jr., Pham hit home runs to take Game 1 in Colorado

The Padres and Rockies started a 3-game series at Coors Field in a virtual tie for first place in the National League West. It was as good a game as you'd expect from a couple of teams that look like they're going to be in the playoff hunt for the duration.

The Padres scored four times in the 9th inning then held on by the skin of their teeth to beat Colorado 8-7 and become the first team in baseball to get to six wins, which usually doesn't seem like much but in a 60-game season stacking W's against division rivals early is crucial.

Garrett Richards made his first career start against the Rockies. At Coors Field there's usually an adjustment period to figure out how pitches move differently at altitude. In the 1st inning Richards' usually sharp slider hung up and Charlie Blackmon, who's hit more home runs against the Padres than any other active player, unloaded for a 2-run home run to put the Rockies up 2-0.

After that Richards figured out how to use his slider at altitude, striking out six and not allowing another run until the 6th inning.

By that point he could have been in line for the win. After being blanked for five innings by Colorado starter Jon Gray the Padres scored three times in the top of the 6th while only getting two balls out of the infield. Jake Cronenworth led off with a single and Trent Grisham walked before Manny Machado hit a soft looper to right field to score Cronenworth and cut the lead to 2-1.

Tommy Pham followed with a grounder up the middle that should have been a double play but All-Star shortstop Trevor Story had the ball bounce off his glove and into centerfield. Grisham scored to tie the game 2-2. Machado scored on a wild pitch by Gray to give the Padres their first lead 3-2.

After that it was a see-saw affair.

In the bottom of the 6th Richards got two outs after allowing a single and a walk was pulled in favor of Matt Strahm. He was welcomed by pinch-hitter and former Padre Matt Kemp, who lined a 2-run double to left field to put the Rockies back on top 4-3.

In the 7th inning San Diego tied it on an RBI single by Fernando Tatis Jr. that brought home Francisco Mejia, who was on base after getting the first hit by a Padres catcher all season (Mejia and Austin Hedges were a combined 0-for-25 before Francisco's single).

The tie lasted precisely two batters.

Strahm was left in to face Story, who atoned for his error with an opposite field home run that put the Rockies back on top 5-4. At Coors Field, that was not going to be the end of the excitement.

With two outs in the top of the 9th inning Tatis Jr. hit a missile over the left field wall off Rockies closer Wade Davis, his 2nd home run of the season, to tie it 5-5. The Tatis blast seemed to give the Padres new life.

After two walks Tommy Pham picked a great time to hit his first home run in a Padres uniform, unloading on a 3-run bomb to put the Friars on top 8-5 and knock Davis out of the game.

In the bottom half the Friars went to their closer. Kirby Yates wasn't much better than Davis. Yates allowed three hits and walked two, including one with the bases loaded to cut the lead to 8-7 before being pulled from the game for the second straight outing. Drew Pomeranz came on and got pinch-hitter Chris Owings to fly out to end it.

San Diego can win their third straight series to start the year on Saturday in Denver if Joey Lucchesi can beat fellow lefty Kyle Freeland.

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