DENVER — The Padres generally get the good Jon Gray, the one whose diving fastball runs as high as 98 mph and whose hard slider makes right-handed batters swat in futility.
The Rockies right-hander’s 2.59 ERA in 16 career starts against the Padres entering Saturday night’s game was fourth lowest of any pitcher who has made 15 starts against them.
The Rockies had only ever seen the good Joey Lucchesi — at least at Coors Field.
The left-hander pitched here twice in his rookie season, went six innings both times, allowed an unearned run once and two runs the other time. The mile-high air doesn’t bother him or his churve. He likes the shape of the mound.
The two pitchers met on Saturday and largely confounded batters for the better part of six innings before the game was decided against relief pitchers.
It got tense again for the beleaguered Padres bullpen, but Kirby Yates struck out the side in the ninth for his major league-leading 16th save as the Padres held on for a 4-3 victory.
The Padres scored the deciding run off Wade Davis in the ninth inning. After a single by Wil Myers and successive walks by Austin Hedges and Austin Allen with one out, Greg Garcia’s grounder to the right side scored Myers.
That came after Lucchesi had arguably his best outing of the season, considering it came in one of the most difficult places to pitch — for most pitchers.
He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four in 5 1/3 innings. The hit he allowed to his last batter ended up scoring, upping his ERA at Coors Field to 1.56 in three starts. Since the start of last season, the total ERA of those pitching in the Rockies’ ballpark was 5.72 entering Saturday.
Tony Wolters’ two-out single in the fifth inning ended Lucchesi’s streak of 12 straight batters retired.
Lucchesi got Gray on a grounder to third to end the inning, the ninth time in a stretch of 11 batters that Lucchesi had to throw three or fewer pitches.
After Lucchesi got his first four outs by strikeout and Garrett Hampson hit the eighth pitch he saw to center field for the second out of the second inning, the Rockies seemed intent on not seeing much of Lucchesi.
He took just 30 pitches to get from the final out of the second through the fifth inning.
The Padres led 1-0 at that point on Hunter Renfroe’s 470-foot home run into the seats beyond left field.
They added a run in the top of the sixth when Manny Machado singled and went to second on a wild pitch before Eric Hosmer drove him home with a single.
Lucchesi got the first out of the sixth (on two pitches) before Trevor Story sent an 0-2 churve to the wall in right-center field. The double was just the third hit off Lucchesi, but it being Coors Field and Nolan Arenado coming up having doubled in the first inning, Green went out and got his starting pitcher.
At most other places, at most other times, Green might have let Lucchesi continue.
But in the altitude, with a bullpen that enjoyed an off day Thursday and has another coming Monday, Green brought in Gerardo Reyes.
It was the Rockies’ turn to get an assist from a wild pitch, as a slider a couple feet off the plate skipped to the backstop and Story scampered to third. Two pitches later, Arenado sent a high fly ball to right field that scored Story and halved the Padres’ lead.
From the likeliest unlikeliest source, the Padres got another run in the seventh.
Myers, who entered the game hitting .091 over his past 12 games but also carried a career 1.080 OPS at Coors Field into Saturday, attempted to lay down a bunt on the first pitch of the seventh. It rolled foul.
Two pitches later, he launched his ninth career homer at Coors Field an estimated 468 feet, into the seats beyond left field.
When the next batter, Hedges, lined a single into right-center, Gray’s night was done. Two relievers finished off the inning, to keep Gray’s line for the night at six innings, eight hits, three runs, a walk and eight strikeouts.
On doubles by David Dahl and Wolters, the Rockies scored a run off Brad Wieck in the seventh.
Craig Stammen entered in the eighth, and his 2-2 slider down and in to leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon was sent to the seats in right field, tying the game 3-3.
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