SAN DIEGO | Consecutive losses to the last-place Padres had some people wondering what was going on with the Colorado Rockies.
Just as quickly, consecutive wins have the Rockies feeling pretty good about themselves.
“We feel as though we’re a contending team,” manager Bud Black said after the Rockies beat the last-place Padres 7-3 Sunday to salvage a split of a four-game series. “We feel as though we can play with anybody in the National League. We’ll see how these next few weeks go. This is good stuff. This is where we want to be. We know we’re in a dogfight with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. We’ve just got to keep doing it.”
About an hour after the Rockies won, Los Angeles beat Arizona 3-2. The Dodgers have a one-half game lead over Colorado, with the Diamondbacks another half game back in third.
Chris Iannetta hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning for the Rockies, who came into the series one-half game behind Arizona before losing the first two games. They snapped San Diego’s four-game winning streak on Saturday night and then beat rookie Jacob Nix (2-3) on Sunday.
Colorado, which lost to Arizona in the NL wild-card game last year, won for the third time in seven games.
With the score tied at 3, Nix faltered opening the seventh by allowing a leadoff single to Ian Desmond and walking Gerardo Parra before being lifted for fellow rookie Trey Wingenter. Desmond and Parra pulled off a double steal and Iannetta brought them both in with a double to the base of the fence in center.
The double steal “takes the double play out of order, gives them a base open and they’ve got to pitch to you,” Iannetta said. “He made a mistake over the plate and I was able to get the barrel to it. I was just trying to hit a ball to the outfield and score one, and was able to hit a line drive and score two.”
Charlie Blackmon singled with one out to bring in Iannetta.
That made a winner of Kyle Freeland (13-7), who allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out three and walked two.
The Rockies return home for a 10-game homestand that starts with three games against San Francisco and finishes with three against the Dodgers and four against Arizona.
“Splitting the series certainly wasn’t what we were hoping for but we’ll take it,” Freeland said.
The seventh inning “was huge,” the lefty added. “They were obviously seeing me pretty well and barreling-up balls. To get through six and then have the offense explode there in the seventh inning and throw some runs on them and kind of step on their throats, that was really great to see.”
David Dahl homered in the eighth, his eighth.
The double steal was big for the Rockies.
“The Rockies have never historically really run on us,” San Diego manager Andy Green said. “They ran all over us this series. It’s a bunch of young guys on the mound that have come up not realizing how important that is. We’ve got to drill that into them that those are free bases, and they turn into runs, and they turn into losses.”
Nix allowed five runs and five hits in six-plus innings, struck out four and walked two.
“I take pride in not walking guys. Nothing frustrates me more than walking a guy and having him score,” Nix said. “Especially like if I ever walk a guy and he steals second then I give up a double, it’s like, that guy shouldn’t have been on base.
“The ball that Story hit, I put that ball right where I wanted. About six inches off the plate, wanted him to chase. He did, got it down the line. Good hitters get hits sometimes.”
Freeland got into early trouble when he walked leadoff batter Freddy Galvis and allowed a single to left by rookie Luis Urias. He walked Eric Hosmer with one out and then allowed rookie Franmil Reyes’ two-run single to center for a 2-1 lead.
Colorado got a sacrifice fly from Nolan Arenado in the first and a sac fly from Dahl in the fourth, and then tied the game in the sixth when DJ LeMahieu walked with one out and scored on Trevor Story’s double to right.
Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson (6-7, 4.79) is scheduled to start Monday in the opener of a three-game series against San Francisco. The Giants will counter with LHP Madison Bumgarner (5-5, 2.68).
Padres: RHP Bryan Mitchell (0-3, 7.08) is scheduled to start Monday night in the opener of a two-game series at Arizona, marking his return to the rotation for the first time since early May. He was moved to the bullpen after struggling in his first seven starts and then missed 2 ½ months with an elbow impingement. Arizona is set to counter with RHP Zack Godley (14-7, 4.42).