DENVER -- Relieved? A little. Rejuvenated? You bet.
"I don't think there was a monkey on my back," Mat Latos insisted after snapping a personal 10-game losing streak in the San Diego Padres' 8-2 win over the slumping Colorado Rockies on Sunday."It was something that happens in baseball. If it was easy everybody would be doing it."Latos (1-5) hadn't won since Sept. 7, 2010, and his 10 straight losing decisions were one shy of the club record set by right-hander Gary Ross in 1969."It's just good to get this one out of the way," Latos said.Ryan Ludwick homered as the last-place Padres continued their offensive breakout. They've scored 43 times over their past five games for an average of 8.6 runs, a huge jump from the 3.1 runs they averaged over the first 35 games of the season.The Padres took two of three from the Rockies, who have lost 10 of 13 games this month.Padres manager Bud Black said before the game he sensed Latos was about to snap out of his funk, saying part of the problem was how much pressure the 23-year-old right-hander was putting on himself.After a shaky start and an adjustment to his delivery, Latos displayed no such duress in allowing just two runs, one earned, and four hits in 5 2/3 crisp innings."It takes some weight off of his shoulders," Black said. "But it is one game that we can build off and gain confidence. He gave up a run in the first and then shut them down there until the sixth when [Todd] Helton got him on a very good at-bat. Hopefully, it will let him exhale a little bit and he can move forward on those things that he needs to continue to work on."Latos said he retreated to the clubhouse early in the game and deciphered a flaw in his delivery. His pitching shoulder was flying open, he said, and his pitches were going all over the place. Correcting the flaw fixed his command troubles."It helped everything," Latos said.Latos issued all three of his walks in the first two innings before settling in and striking out five. He escaped largely unscathed despite walking three of his first eight batters.The Rockies pushed across a run in the first without getting a hit. Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez drew one-out walks and Smith scored when second baseman Eric Patterson's double play relay to first base was wild.Colorado put runners at second and third in the second, but Latos escaped the jam when home plate umpire Jerry Meals rung up Dexter Fowler for strike three on an inside heater.Latos' teammates helped him out, too.He was victimized by poor run support during his streak -- the Padres scored more than two runs just twice for him during the 10-game skid spanning 11 starts.Ludwick, though, gave him all the cushion he'd need when he sent a 91 mph fastball from Jason Hammel (3-3) over the left-center field fence for his sixth homer in the fourth inning. The three-run shot put San Diego ahead 3-1.The Rockies pulled to 3-2 in the sixth when Todd Helton homered for the second straight day, driving his sixth homer into the Rockies' bullpen in right-center.But the Padres iced it with a five-run seventh that sent much of the crowd scurrying for the exits.Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta said Latos' skid wasn't reflective of the right-hander's talent, just his bad luck."The game's tough," Iannetta said. "The game's really tough. You're going to see guys that are good players go through tough stretches at times. It just kind of happens. You hate to see guys go through it, but it's part of the game."That's how the Rockies feel about themselves right now: they can't seem to catch a break.They've gone 9-16 since starting out 11-2, largely because of their inept offense, but lately it's also been the bullpen struggling. They've lost six straight day games after starting the season 7-1 under the sun and they've lost five of six rubber games.They haven't won a home series since taking a three-game set from the Chicago Cubs a month ago.They blew a six-run seventh-inning lead on Saturday and had another late-inning meltdown Sunday."It's tough to lose against a team that we all know we should have [beaten] yesterday and today, but it just got out of our hands," Gonzalez said. "And the one thing that bothers us the most is we all know that we are a better team and we all know that we can do a better job than what we're doing right now."
Hammel allowed six earned runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. ... The Rockies got a scare in the eighth when Gonzalez was struck in his right foot by a fastball. He walked it off and took his base, but came out of the game for the top of the ninth. He said he's OK.