Gregerson punctuates series victory
Reliever earns first career save after Friars rally vs. Rox
DENVER -- Not a bad night for Padres rookie reliever Luke Gregerson, who pulled off a nice impersonation of closer Heath Bell, picked up his first Major League save and was spared the indignity of having to pull fishnet stockings over his legs.
Yes, fishnet stockings.
It made sense that Gregerson hung around the training room as long as possible after the Padres held on for a 5-4 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field on Thursday, a victory that was only secured after Gregerson got the final five outs of the game.
Waiting for Gregerson at his locker was a female pirate outfit that was part of the Padres' annual rookie hazing event, where players dress in costumes that are as uncomfortable as they are unbecoming.
"I guarantee that he won't care what he's wearing," San Diego manager Bud Black said.
He was right. Gregerson would have gladly pulled on the Tinkerbell costume that relief pitcher Luis Perdomo somehow squeezed himself into after deftly working his way through the final 1 2/3 innings, including the ninth with Bell resting his taxed arm.
Gregerson struck out two and allowed one hit and twice worked out of situations where the Rockies (86-67) had the tying run on base in the eighth inning and then again in the ninth inning.
"Not really ... you pitch the eighth [inning] or the seventh long enough and it's just as crucial," Gregerson said. "But I did have a lot of adrenaline tonight."
Closing a game was certainly a new experience for Gregerson, but having success on the road was not. He's now allowed all of three runs in 32 2/3 innings with 20 hits allowed and 34 strikeouts, many coming on his best pitch, a wipeout slider.
Oddly enough, Gregerson relied more on his fastball on Thursday, trusting catcher Nick Hundley. He came on in the eighth inning with a run in and a runner on and struck out Jason Giambi looking and sitting down Carlos Gonzalez to end the inning.
"He's done a great job," said Bell, who on Wednesday notched his 40th save but has been in 13 games this month and was essentially given the night off. "I told him to go out and pretend it's the eighth inning.
"He did what he's been doing all year. He's done an awesome job."
The Padres (71-83) rallied from a 3-0 deficit, getting a solo home run from Hundley in the fifth inning. They tied the game with two runs in the seventh inning and then went ahead in the eighth inning as Hundley bounced a two-out single up the middle. Then it was Tony Gwynn's turn, as he dumped an RBI single into left field for a 5-3 lead.
San Diego starting pitcher Clayton Richard wasn't around for the fun at the end, but he did hang, allowing two earned runs in six innings, even after allowing a three-run homer to Troy Tulowitzki in the first inning.
"Really, the first inning wasn't that awful," said Richard, who got a lot of mileage out of his changeup. "Sometimes you've got to tip your cap to them."
The game was ultimately decided by the bullpens: The Padres squeezed three innings out of theirs, without Bell and Mike Adams, both given the night off. The only blight came in the eighth inning when Ryan Webb allowed a solo home run to Ian Stewart that made it 5-4.
The Rockies' bullpen allowed three runs after starter Jason Hammel left the game with two walks that proved costly, including one that Franklin Morales was charged with in the seventh inning when he walked Everth Cabrera with the bases loaded.
The victory gave the Padres another series victory and one against a team that's fighting for the National League Wild Card. San Diego is 33-21 since July 28 and might have the best bullpen of teams in the NL right now, even the ones contending for the playoffs.
"We went into a series in Atlanta [on Aug. 3] -- we talked about using the next six weeks as a measuring stick to see where we are," Black said. "To see how we responded ... our record indicates how we've played. I'm very proud of the way the guys have played."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.