Padres stung by Rockies' rally
Bell takes first blown save; Gwynn regrets play in ninth
DENVER -- There was equal sharing Saturday in the accepting-blame department for the Padres, who came within one out of a victory over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Heath Bell, who had successfully converted all 14 of his save opportunities this season, took his share for allowing two runs in the ninth inning, as the Rockies scored twice for an 8-7 victory.
Then there was center fielder Tony Gwynn, who had a rough night defensively, losing a ball in the twilight sky that led to two runs and, ultimately, not making what he felt was the "smart" play on the ball that allowed the game-winning run to score from first base.
"I totally let the team down," Bell said afterward. "They, the position players and the bench, worked their butt off and I just didn't do it. I'm pretty ticked off. If I pitch like that, I don't deserve to be in the big leagues."
Gwynn, who was charged with an error in the third inning and lost the ball in the seventh inning that led to two runs and a tie game, scolded himself for not making the right play on Brad Hawpe's high fly ball in the ninth inning.
On that play, Hawpe lifted a ball high to center field that Gwynn -- playing deep so not to let anything go over his head with a runner on first base -- broke in on. He left his feet for the ball that bounced in front of and then past him, allowing the game-winner to score.
"It's not a good baseball play," Gwynn said. "You've got to use your brain more. I've got to let that ball drop in and hope he [Bell] gets the next guy out."
The Rockies (20-28) tied the game on Garrett Atkins' RBI single that went up the middle in the ninth inning. It was a play Bell said afterward he didn't make a good effort on, which bothered him to no end.
"I really think I could have caught that. I jumped out of the way," Bell said. "I moved left just a tad. I could have got in front of it."
Up to that final inning, the Padres (24-25) didn't have a whole lot to be remorseful about.
San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez got into a Jason Hammel pitch in the first inning with two runners on for his Major League-leading 19th home run of the season. The Padres finished with 11 hits, including four with runners in scoring position.
Starting pitcher Josh Geer, who got off to a rough start by allowing three runs in the first inning, settled down thereafter. He allowed a leadoff triple in the seventh inning to Troy Tulowitzki on a ball that Gwynn had trouble picking up in the grayish sky.
"That's straight-up Mother Nature. I saw it off the bat and I'm trying to stick it out," he said. "That's one you can live with."
Tulowitzki would eventually score, as would another run as the Rockies tied the score at 6.
Scott Hairston, the almost-hero of Game No. 163 here in Denver in 2007 when he gave the Padres a short-lived lead in the Wild Card playoff game with a home run, blasted a solo home run to center field in the top of the ninth inning for a 7-6 lead.
On came Bell, who before Saturday hadn't allowed a single hit this season to a right-handed batter. But in a vexing ninth inning, he allowed two, one to Clint Barmes, who had four hits, to start the inning and then the ball to Atkins up the middle.
Even after Barmes' hit, Bell looked like he might get out of the inning, as he got Todd Helton to ground out to Kevin Kouzmanoff for the second out. It was during the at-bat to Helton where Barmes stole second base to get him into scoring position.
But then came the hit to Atkins that Bell felt he should have had. Hawpe, who hit a two-run home run in the first inning, followed with the fly ball to center field that Gwynn, in hindsight, wishes he would have kept in front of him.
"He pitched great, outstanding," Padres manager Bud Black said of Bell, who still leads the Major Leagues in saves. "It was a great run. If I know Heath ... he'll bounce back."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.