SAN DIEGO | Jon Gray bounced back nicely from an opening day loss. He did it crisply, too.
Gray pitched seven scoreless innings, Trevor Story and Ian Desmond each had a big two-run hit and the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Gray (1-1) shut down the Padres a night after they won 8-4 behind rookie Christian Villanueva’s three home runs and five RBIs. Gray retired Villanueva in three straight at-bats, including a strikeout. The right-hander struck out seven and walked none before three relievers finished up.
The combined six-hitter took just 2 hours, 41 minutes, and neither team used a mound visit.
Gray got on a roll and worked quickly.
“When things are working really fast, if you’re getting guys out on one or two pitches, I mean, the inning can be over like that,” he said. “You don’t even know it. It’s a lot of fresh, good pitches in your mind that you just made, and it’s a lot easier to make the next one like that.”
Gray allowed only two baserunners through the first five innings.
It was a much better outing than on opening day, when he gave up three runs and six hits in four innings during a loss at Arizona.
“Jon bounced back, for sure,” Rockies manager Bud Black. “Stayed pretty poised throughout the game within his delivery. Fastball had life, good slider. I liked the fact that the curveball came into play as the game went on. He needs that. We’ve talked a lot about the velocity variance. That was big for him.”
Cory Spangenberg had two of the Padres’ four hits off Gray.
Jake McGee allowed a hit and two San Diego runs in the eighth, one of them unearned due to his error. Bryan Shaw gave up an RBI single to Hunter Renfroe, but Wade Davis closed in the ninth for his third save.
The Rockies hit Clayton Richard (0-1) hard in scoring all their runs in the first two innings. Story’s broken-bat, two-run double that bounced over the left-field wall highlighted the three-run first, when the Rockies also got an RBI double from Nolan Arenado.
Desmond’s two-run single with the bases loaded highlighted the second. Arenado was thrown out by Matt Szczur trying to go from first to third on the play.
Pitching with the lead helped Gray.
“He’s a pretty good front-runner,” Black said. “I like that. Like in a horse race, man. If you get the lead as a horse, sometimes you finish it. I’ll keep an eye on Jon, but hopefully he’s a good front-runner — catches the lead and keeps going.”
Padres manager Andy Green said Gray “didn’t create many opportunities to score early on. There’s been times when we’ve gotten to him and times we’ve had a lot of trouble with him. He’s kind of had that history for them where he’s out there in some outings and he’s absolutely dominant and he’s had other outings where we get to him. Today was one of those days we just didn’t get pressure on him early.”
Richard, who tossed seven strong innings against Milwaukee on opening day, allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked three.
“It wasn’t terrible but wasn’t great,” Richard said. “A little bit of a spray the first couple innings. Then unfortunately the balls that were in play were either hit hard enough on the ground or broken bat that was a double down the line.”
“You look at those first three guys in their lineup,” Green said, referring to Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu and Arenado. “They’ve got two guys who are as good as anybody in baseball at the top and they’ve got another guy who’s won the batting title. You want to beat those guys. You’ve got to keep those three guys off base and that was our challenge the first two innings. Those three guys did the bulk of the damage and that’s usually the case with their offense.”
Padres: OF Wil Myers was placed on the 10-day disabled list with nerve irritation in his right arm. Myers also missed time this season with a sore back. RHP Phil Maton was recalled from Triple-A El Paso to take his roster spot.
Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson starts the series finale Thursday afternoon. He allowed seven runs over 2 1/3 innings last Friday, including five in the first inning, but didn’t factor into the decision in a 9-8 loss at Arizona.
Padres: Rookie LHP Joey Lucchesi makes his second start. He gave up three runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings during his major league debut Friday night.
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