DENVER -- Padres manager Bud Black was asked if his team was "holding on" -- a reference to how its lead in the National League West has gone from 4 1/2 games on June 27 to just two entering Saturday's game against the Rockies.

"I look more at how we're playing than where we are in the standings," Black said.

The Rockies have certainly caught fire in recent weeks, trimming the Padres lead in a very competitive division to two games with two to play before the All-Star break.

That 4 1/2-game lead was the Padres' high-water mark, but it certainly wasn't commanding by any means, given how close the division has been so far.

"We're going to do everything we can to keep surprising everyone," Black said.

Sanchez's no-no became Friars' turning point

DENVER -- Outfielder Tony Gwynn reflected on Saturday's one-year anniversary of Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter against the Padres at AT&T Park.

Gwynn, for obvious reasons, doesn't hold a lot of fond memories from that day, though he said there was a silver lining.

"You could look at it as the turning point in our season," Gwynn said. "From there on, we played pretty good baseball."

From that point on, including this season, the Padres have a 90-71 record, good for the seventh-best mark among Major League teams over that stretch.

Better still, the Padres are 87-61 and tied for the second-best record in baseball since July 28. That's the day the Padres started their 37-25 push to finish the 2009 regular season.

As for the Sanchez no-hitter, it was actually the second one Gwynn had been a part of. He was a member of the Brewers in 2007 when Detroit's Justin Verlander tossed a no-hitter.

Sanchez's gem took the Padres by surprise because, as Gwynn said, the scouting report on the left-hander wasn't exactly filled with glowing adjectives.

"The book on him was that he had good stuff but no control," Gwynn said. "That was the first time I had seen him throw as many strikes as he did."

Sanchez struck out 11 and didn't walk a single batter. Gwynn, for what it's worth, had two strikeouts in three at-bats.

Gregerson taking rough patch hard

DENVER -- No one took Friday's 10-8 loss to the Rockies harder than Luke Gregerson, the reliever who allowed a grand slam to Ian Stewart in the seventh inning.

That hit marked the fourth consecutive appearance where Gregerson has allowed a run. His ERA, once 1.60, has reached 3.00, though that wasn't what had him so down after the game.

"That's my job, my role. The big part is you feel like you let the guys down," Gregerson said.

Gregerson, a rookie last season, said he was buoyed by the kind words of his teammates and that he's not going to let this rough patch cloud his thinking in future outings, which could come sooner rather than later.

Such is life as a reliever.

"If you're going to have bad games ... it's how to handle them," Gregerson said. "I feel like I have a short memory. I feel like I can go out there anytime and get the job done."

Gregerson said his back, which caused him some discomfort a week ago, isn't an issue and that he's healthy. Manager Bud Black hasn't noticed anything amiss from the mechanical perspective, though he has detected one thing.

"I'm seeing harder sliders," Black said of Gregerson's best pitch, one that typically runs around the low 80s but has been up to 85 mph recently. "Usually, it's [a sign of] a guy trying to throw harder."

The Stewart home run came on a slider that was up in the strike zone. Stewart, a left-handed hitter, poked it just over the left-field fence by the foul pole.

Padres continue strong defensive efforts

DENVER -- There's been plenty made, and rightfully so, about the Padres pitching thus far, but their defensive works haven't gone unnoticed.

Going into Saturday's game with the Rockies, the Padres led the National League with a .990 fielding percentage and have but one error since June 28.

That error, oddly enough, occurred Friday when Everth Cabrera couldn't grab a foul popup down the left-field line.

The Padres had gone 81 innings without an error before Cabrera's miscue in the second inning.

"When you pitch well and play defense," said Padres manager Bud Black, "It gives you a chance to win every night."