Padres roll with season high in runs
Even cozy Coors Field can't undermine offensive eruption
DENVER -- After racing out to an 11-run lead through three innings Sunday afternoon, the only drama the Padres probably should have encountered was whether stadium security would be able to recover rookie catcher Luke Carlin's first Major League home run from the outfield seats.
But this is Coors Field, and even if San Diego manager Bud Black spent most of his career in the American League, he knows enough about this place to know that no lead -- no matter how great -- is truly safe.
"A four-run lead [elsewhere] is a one- or two-run lead here," Black said. "In this park, you never know how it's going to play out."
And while the Padres set a season high for runs scored in a game, their 16-7 victory on Sunday over the Rockies before a crowd of 45,660 was anything but easy and certainly anything but mundane.
The Padres (46-72) got home runs from Kevin Kouzmanoff, Brian Giles, Jody Gerut and Carlin, who was recalled on Saturday. In fact, one can argue that his opposite-field, three-run home run in the sixth inning turned the momentum in a game where the momentum, seemingly, should have never left the Padres' side.
San Diego starting pitcher Chris Young, staked to an 11-0 lead, ran up a high pitch count early in the game, thanks in part to three walks over four innings and that he couldn't get a strike called above the waist.
After three scoreless innings, Young got in trouble in the fourth inning, when he yielded a leadoff double to Garrett Atkins. Ian Stewart then lined a ball to Edgar Gonzalez at second base. Gonzalez left his feet and the ball glanced off his glove and trickled into the outfield as a run scored.
Had Gonzalez made the catch, he could have easily doubled Atkins off second, who had strayed off the bag. Instead, the inning rolled on, and so did the Rockies.
The Rockies scored six more runs and chased Young from the game, one inning shy of qualifying for the victory. All told, Young allowed seven runs on nine hits and left with his pitch count at 96 after four innings.
"The strike zone was a little tight, and there were a few borderline pitches that didn't go my way," Young said. "Then I missed out over the plate to a very good-hitting team. It was a long inning. I threw a lot of pitches. I wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be."
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The Padres then turned to left-handed reliever Justin Hampson to get them through the middle innings. Hampson, who on more than one occasion in 2007 saved the bullpen with quality innings in middle relief, essentially did so again on Sunday, tossing three scoreless frames.
"To be able to put up zeroes was big," Hampson said. "They've got some hitters over there. They're solid hitters. You feel fortunate when you get them to miss a ball."
The Rockies (53-67) went quietly after Young left the game, as Hampson held them without a run. Wil Ledezma did the same over his two innings of work, which proved paramount Sunday because the Padres' bullpen was taxed and a man down after reliever Bryan Corey suffered a hamstring injury Saturday.
Carlin's three-run home run in the sixth inning with two outs gave the Padres a 14-7 advantage, providing San Diego a little more breathing room -- even in this ballpark, where runs can come in bunches.
"It feels great," Carlin said. "I was trying to get a pitch away and hit it up the middle."
Carlin, who drove in a career-high four runs, wasn't the only Padres player with a hot bat on Sunday. Giles and Adrian Gonzalez each had four hits. Gerut and Kouzmanoff added three hits each. Kouzmanoff had nine hits during the three-game series, raising his average to .281.
Yet, despite the 16 runs and 20 hits, it's safe to say that Black finally was able to feel comfortable only after the final out was recorded Sunday.
"I've been in this park a number of times, but not as many as some but hopefully I'm a quick enough study to know the more runs you get, the better you feel," Black said. "I have spent a lot of years in this game. You never take things for granted."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.