Oh how quickly the fortunes of the Colorado Rockies and Eddie Butler turned on Tuesday night at Petco Park in San Diego.
Cruising along with a 3-0 lead and a perfect game two outs into the fourth, Butler’s first start quickly dissolved into a nightmare as San Diego took their second consecutive game from the Rockies with a 6-3 decision. The loss was Colorado’s 20th in its last 26 games in San Diego.
Colorado (12-14) had four hits in the first two innings but would manage just one more the rest of the game as San Diego pitchers struck out 10 Rockies, including seven of the last 11 batters.
Much like San Diego had done one night before, the Colorado Rockies jumped quickly out of the gate to open the game. Charlie Blackmon took a 2-1 pitch from San Diego starter Andrew Cashner over the left-field wall for his first homer of the season to give the visitors a speedy 1-0 lead.
Trevor Story followed with a single and Carlos Gonzalez tacked on another single to move Story to third and give the Rockies three hits from their first three batters. Two batters later, Mark Reynolds launched a sacrifice fly to right to plate Story and give the Rockies a 2-0 lead.
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The Colorado Rockies would add to their advantage in the bottom of the second when DJ LeMahieu led off the frame with a walk. Butler would sacrifice him to second and, one batter later, Story would have his second single of the night, this one an RBI smash to center to push the Colorado lead to 3-0.
From there, however, Cashner would find his groove, allowing just one Colorado hit over the next four innings and retiring eight consecutive batters before being taken out of the game in the sixth.
“I thought Cashner started going toward his secondary stuff, pitching backwards a little bit,” said Colorado manager Walt Weiss. “He started to get us off balance from that point on. We started out well but we came to a halt real quick.”
Butler, meanwhile, was the exact opposite, starting strong before faltering late. The 25-year-old right-hander retired the first 11 Padres he faced before the wheels came off quickly.
With two outs in the fourth (and we know pitching with two outs has been an Achilles’ heel for the Rockies this season), Matt Kemp continued his torture of Colorado pitchers by blasting Butler’s offering over the left-center field fence to cut the Colorado lead to 3-1.
Before the crowd of 20,394 at Petco Park could sit down from cheering Kemp’s blast, Brett Wallace smacked his own solo homer for a back-to-back boost of adrenaline to the home crowd and shrinking 3-2 Colorado edge.
After speedily retiring the side in the fifth inning, San Diego’s offense revved back up against Butler in the sixth. With one out, Jon Jay was hit by a pitch on an 0-2 count. Things would go downhill quickly from there as four of the next five Padres would reach base, including Wallace’s RBI double down the left field line to give San Diego the lead at 4-3.
“The ball started to get elevated a little bit,” Weiss said. “His two-seamer was real hard and heavy. His slider was real good but little by little the ball started getting elevated. That was the difference.”
Butler was tagged for five runs and four hits in 5.2 innings of work.
“I strung together a lot of good pitches but three or four of them determined the outcome of the game,” Butler said. “I’m disappointed. I had the opportunity to get the team on the right track and then ended up going out like that.”
Colorado will try to salvage the final game of the three-game set on Wednesday afternoon before heading to San Francisco to face the Giants for four games at AT&T Park.