SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nolan Arenado and the Colorado Rockies found their stride at sea level.
Arenado homered for the third straight game — a two-run shot on his 28th birthday — and Jon Gray pitched seven strong innings for the Colorado Rockies, who beat the San Diego Padres 8-2 Tuesday night for a two-game sweep and their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Gray (1-3) allowed a home run in an NL-record 16th straight game when Wil Myers connected leading off the fifth, but otherwise tamed the Padres, who have lost three straight for the first time this season.
Rookie Garrett Hampson hit his first career-homer and Raimel Tapia had a two-run triple for the Rockies, whose bats came to life on the final three games of a six-game swing through San Francisco and San Diego. Prior to that, they had lost eight straight games.
“We lost the first three games and then we won the last three. To be able to say we split a road trip is not bad,” Arenado said. “Obviously you want to win them, but to split is not a bad feeling. Definitely we lost some tough games and it feels good to know we took care of business these last three.”
Said Gray: “I wouldn’t say it’s like a night and day thing, but you can tell it’s gradually coming along. We never really got to a low point, which I’m proud about. That’s because we know what we have. I think a lot of that plays into that.”
Arenado hit his first homer of the season in Sunday’s 4-0 win at San Francisco and went deep again in Monday night’s 5-2 win against the Padres.
His shot to straightaway center field off rookie left-hander Nick Margevicius (1-2) with one out provided the Rockies with their first first-inning runs this season. Their streak of 17 straight games without a run in the first inning was longest to begin a season in franchise history.
“We scored runs early. You always feel a little bit more comfortable when you score a couple runs early,” Arenado said. “I think it gives the pitcher a little more confidence, or calms him down in a way, maybe. It was a good win. We’re playing good baseball right now and we’ve got to keep it up.”
Arenado, a four-time All-Star, said birthday homers “are awesome. It felt really good. I just tried to have good at-bats. It was nice to come out with a win, a couple knocks, a homer, a couple RBIs. That was pretty cool.”
It was the 189th career homer, surpassing Troy Tulowitzki (188) for sixth place all-time in Rockies history.
Charlie Blackmon hit an RBI double in the second and Tapia a two-run triple in the third for a 5-0 lead.
Trevor Story had a career-high three stolen bases, including stealing second and then executing a double steal with Mark Reynolds ahead of Tapia’s triple.
Hampson hit a one-out homer to left in the seventh off Adam Warren. A fan threw the ball back onto the field and left fielder Wil Myers tossed it into foul territory, where a ball girl handed it to a fan despite Padres third baseman Manny Machado trying to get her attention. The Rockies were able to retrieve the ball for Hampson.
Hampson made his big league debut last year and was on his first opening day roster this year.
Gray improved to 9-3 lifetime against San Diego by holding the Padres to one run and three hits while striking out five and walking three.
Gray’s only big mistake was allowing Myers’ homer to left leading off the fifth, his fifth.
“I just got a good pitch middle in and was able to put a good swing on it. I like being able to do that,” Myers said.
The Padres had only five hits.
“If there’s one thing not to worry about it’s this offense,” Myers said. “We’ve got guys in here who are going to hit. We’ll definitely get going.”
Margevicius allowed five runs and seven hits in four innings, struck out seven and walked one.
“I think I made some pitches, didn’t make some pitches,” he said. “Up here’s that’s just going to happen. I’m going to have nights like this and it’s not all going to be good all the time. It’s something I’m going to learn from I’m sure.
“The one to Arenado was a fastball away,” he added. “It’s away but he crushes those pitches, so maybe that wasn’t the best pitch selection right there.”
Rockies: Colorado returns home to open a four-game series against Philadelphia on Thursday night, with LHP Kyle Freeland (1-3, 5.40) scheduled to make the start.
Padres: Rookie RHP Chris Paddack (0-0, 1.29) seeks his first win Thursday night in the opener of a four-game home series against the Cincinnati Reds, who counter with RHP Tanner Roark (0-0, 4.30).
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