Padres fall short against Rockies
Mujica allows late three-run shot, and Colorado holds on
SAN DIEGO -- It has been feast or famine so far this season for Padres reliever Edward Mujica.On one hand, Mujica has struck out 42 batters in 39 2/3 innings while walking four. On the other hand, 10 of the 32 hits Mujica has given up have been home runs, and by the nature of the role, many of those long balls have come in crucial late-inning situations. The scales didn't tip in Mujica's favor on Tuesday night, as he allowed a three-run blast to Clint Barmes in the seventh inning that ultimately gave the Rockies the cushion they needed to top the Padres, 6-3, in front of 21,196 at PETCO Park. "[Mujica's] fastball has a tendency to leak back over the plate at times," said Padres manager Bud Black. "His arm action, at times, when he gets through the fastball, it's great. Other times, he gets to the side of it, and that ball sort of flattens out. "He's been a big part of our bullpen. Tonight, it just didn't happen. These guys aren't going to be invincible every night." When San Diego starter Wade LeBlanc (4-6) left the game in the seventh inning -- after tossing a career-high 112 pitches -- with two runners on and the Padres (45-32) trailing, 1-0, Mujica was brought on with one out to clamp down on the Rockies' scoring threat and keep his club within striking distance. Instead, Barmes drilled a 3-2 fastball from Mujica into the left-field seats to extend Colorado's lead to 4-0. "I liked the matchup with [Mujica] and Barmes," Black said. "I thought Wade had showed some signs of wobbling a little bit. I thought he was showing signs that maybe he was tiring. I was looking for Edward to go after Barmes and get him. It just didn't happen." It was the second consecutive game in which Mujica has allowed a home run, as Seth Smith went deep for a solo shot in the ninth inning on Monday. In typical Padres fashion, the Friars answered in the bottom of the seventh with three runs when Jerry Hairston Jr. led off the inning with a home run to left, Tony Gwynn drove in Everth Cabrera on a bloop single down the left-field line that bounced off the glove of Ryan Spilborghs and Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to short to score Aaron Cunningham. But Scott Hairston then struck out with Gwynn on third to end the inning and keep the score 4-3. There wouldn't be a chance for any ninth-inning magic, as the Rockies (41-36) tacked on two insurance runs off Ryan Webb in the top of the frame and Houston Street earned his first save of the season with a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning. Until that seventh inning, LeBlanc had made virtually one mistake -- a 1-0 cutter to Carlos Gonzalez that he sent over the wall in center in the fourth inning to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead. "That's one thing that I need to get better at against lefties is to get the cutter away, because I hang it a lot," LeBlanc said. "I've gotten away with a few, but [Gonzalez] did what he was supposed to do on that one." That was the only hit LeBlanc allowed before the seventh inning, when he gave up a single to left by Miguel Olivo two batters after a leadoff walk to Ryan Spilborghs. He also tied his career high with eight strikeouts while walking three. "He pitched great, he really did," Black said. "He made some adjustments from his last start in Tampa and carried those over to tonight. As the game went on, he located his fastball, used his changeup, mixed in some sliders as well. So, overall, a good game from Wade." Hits were also tough to come by for the Padres for the first six innings against Rockies starter Jason Hammel (6-3). He scattered four base knocks through six frames before allowing three consecutive hits to start the seventh that all eventually came around to score. "I was just attacking hitters," Hammel said. "It's a pretty patient team, but if you get ahead, you can make them chase, just like any other team. I got spotted a run early, and Barmie came up with the big three-run blast."
Gina Mizell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.