DENVER -- Through three innings, it was shaping up to be one
of the worst games of Todd Zeile's career.
Showing remarkable resiliency, Zeile wound up with five RBI,
matching his career high, as the Colorado Rockies routed the San Diego Padres 16-3 on Thursday. The Rockies, now 17-8 under manager Clint Hurdle after a 6-16
start under Buddy Bell, moved into fourth place in the NL West
ahead of the Padres. Larry Walker and Todd Helton homered on consecutive pitches, and
Todd Hollandsworth had a three-run homer. John Thomson pitched
seven strong innings, and Bobby Estalella had three straight
doubles for the Rockies, who posted their first three-game series
sweep of San Diego in Denver since 1995. Zeile had three straight hits after his poor start. "Baseball is the strangest game,'' Zeile said. "I started out
as poorly in this game as any game I can remember in recent times.
I grounded out with the bases loaded. I struck out with two men on.
I cost Larry (Walker) an assist in right field when I drop a throw
at third. And we're only in the third inning. "I was angry about the error. I was upset about costing Larry
because he made such a great throw. I don't know that you need
extra motivation, but I certainly didn't want to let that be
something that turned into the difference in the game.'' Zeile made sure of it. He had RBI in three straight innings -- a
two-run double in the sixth, an RBI single in the seventh and a
sacrifice fly in the eighth. His groundout in the first also
produced a run. "He brings a calm confidence to the ballclub,'' Hurdle said of
Zeile, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Mets in
January. "He's probably played in more big games than the rest of our
club combined. He's as good a two-strike hitter as I've seen in a
while. He might not look good early, but he finds a way to get the
barrel on the ball late. He did it again today. He's been a nice
addition to our ballclub.'' Padres starter Brett Tomko (3-4) departed in the fifth with a
bruised left calf after being struck by Zeile's liner. The Rockies, who stranded seven baserunners in the first four
innings, scored three runs in the fifth to take a 4-1 lead. They
added two more in the sixth, six runs in the seventh, including
Hollandsworth's fifth homer, and four in the eighth. Colorado's 16 runs and 18 hits represented season highs. Thomson (6-3) allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings,
retiring 12 straight batters during one stretch. Mark Sweeney hit a two-run homer in the seventh for San Diego,
which has lost six of seven. "We were our own worst enemy,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy
said. "We didn't play well defensively and our bullpen caved in.
That was a rough way to end a series. "We're in a funk right now. There are too many cold bats in our
lineup.'' Colorado loaded the bases with one out in the first, but Tomko
escaped with minimal damage, allowing just one run. Juan Pierre led off with a double, and Walker and Helton both
walked. Pierre scored on Zeile's groundout, and Tomko then struck
out Hollandsworth. San Diego tied it in the second with an unearned run. D'Angelo
Jimenez singled. Tom Lampkin also singled. Jimenez, attempting to
reach third on the hit, appeared to have been thrown out by right
fielder Walker, but Zeile dropped the ball for an error. Jimenez
then scored on Tomko's groundout. Walker led off the fifth with a 458-foot homer to center, his
10th. On the next pitch, Helton homered off the facade of the
second deck in right, his 11th. Zeile singled off Tomko's left leg,
bringing in reliever Tom Davey, who retired the first two batters
he faced. But Estalella made it 4-1 with an RBI double. Zeile's two-run double off Davey made it 6-1 in the sixth. Juan
Uribe singled, Helton was intentionally walked and, with two outs,
Zeile doubled to the gap in left-center.
The Rockies scored six runs off Jason Boyd in the seventh.
Before Hollandsworth's homer, Pierre had an RBI single, Helton a
sacrifice fly and Zeile an RBI single.
Padres OF Ray Lankford was back in the lineup after missing
two games with a sore right thumb. ... Walker reached base eight
consecutive times before grounding out in the sixth. ...
Estalella's three doubles represented a career high and tied a
Rockies record. ... The Padres' road record fell to 7-18.