First-place Padres cool off streaking Rockies, 6-4
San Diego Padres' Aaron Cunningham (28) collides with Colorado Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo at home plate during the third inning of a baseball game in Denver, Monday, Sept. 13, 2010. Cunningham was out on the play. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
DENVER (AP) — Miguel Tejada tied a season high with four RBIs to help the San Diego Padres remain on top of the NL West, cooling off Colorado with a 6-4 victory Monday night and halting the Rockies' 10-game winning streak.
The Padres have a half-game lead over San Francisco. Losers of three of their previous four, they entered the game percentage points ahead of the Giants and were in danger of falling out of at least a share of the division lead for the first time since June 16.
Tejada made sure that didn't happen, hitting a two-run homer in the first inning and driving in two more with a two-out single in the fifth.
It was Ryan Ludwick's RBI single later in the fifth that gave the Padres a 5-0 lead and ended up being the difference as Colorado rallied back. Pinch-hitter Oscar Salazar added a little more breathing room with a solo homer in the ninth.
The Rockies fell 2½ games back in the division and 3½ behind Atlanta in the NL wild-card race.
Rookie starter Cory Luebke was masterful through 4 2-3 innings, but the Rockies finally figured him out in the fifth. The lefty allowed a two-out, run-scoring single to NL Triple Crown contender Carlos Gonzalez and then a three-run homer to Troy Tulowitzki, the reigning NL player of the week.
After singles from Melvin Mora and Todd Helton to extend the inning, Luebke was lifted for reliever Ernesto Frieri (1-1), who got Ryan Spilborghs to ground out and earn his first major league win.
The Padres used five relievers to bridge the gap to closer Heath Bell, including Mike Adams in the eighth. He got pinch-hitter Jason Giambi — who hit a game-winning homer the day before — to line hard to Adrian Gonzalez at first base for an inning-ending double play.
Bell had a shaky ninth, putting a runner on before getting Carlos Gonzalez, the NL's leading hitter, to ground out to end the game. It was Bell's 28th straight save and 41st this season in 44 chances.
San Diego had a chance to add a run in the third when Aaron Cunningham reached on an infield single and stole second. On Adrian Gonzalez's sharp single to left, Cunningham elected to test Carlos Gonzalez's arm.
The throw arrived before Cunningham, so he barreled through Miguel Olivo. But the veteran catcher cradled the ball as he fell to the dirt, holding up his glove as the crowd roared.
Jeff Francis (4-5) made his first start for Colorado in more than a month while filling in for Aaron Cook, who broke his lower right leg last week when he was struck by a line drive on the mound.
Battling shoulder soreness, Francis was kept on a strict pitch count against the Padres. Rockies manager Jim Tracy pulled him for a pinch hitter after he went three innings and reached 62 pitches.
The lefty gave up five hits and two runs, most of the damage coming in a laborious 34-pitch first. He left an 89 mph fastball up to Tejada, who hit it into the left-field stands for a two-run homer.
It was Tejada's sixth homer for San Diego.
Colorado's 10-game winning streak was the third-longest in team history. The Rockies rattled off 11 in a row in June 2009, shortly after Tracy took over. They also won 11 straight in September 2007, propelling them on their run to the World Series, where they were swept by Boston.
Notes: Padres OF Tony Gwynn Jr. was activated from the disabled list after missing 23 games with a broken bone in his right hand. ... Rockies 3B Ian Stewart (strained oblique muscle) went through simulated fielding drills, along with playing catch from 90 feet and taking some dry swings. ... C Chris Iannetta will rest his sore calf a few days before the Rockies put him through any baseball activities. ... Before the game began, the Padres had to juggle their lineup when OF Scott Hairston was scratched with a sore left shoulder.