DENVER (AP) -- Brent Butler learned how to hit a slider quickly.
After striking out twice on sliders earlier in the game, hit one
for a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth inning to lead the
Colorado Rockies to a 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on
Wednesday night. "Yeah, I was looking for a slider in that situation,'' Butler
said. "I had gotten them all game, and I hadn't done anything with
them, so I was like, 'They're not going to change now.''' Manager Clint Hurdle said Butler, a utility infielder who was
starting only his third game of the season, "was kind of flailing
at the slider at little bit. But a player like that, you keep
running him out there, showing confidence in him and hoping he
comes through. It builds their confidence. He got a big hit for
us.'' Todd Zeile opened the eighth off Jeremy Fikac (3-3) with a
grounder that skipped past third baseman Sean Burroughs for a
two-base error. Mark Little entered as a pinch-runner, and Butler doubled down
the left-field line. Butler then scored on pinch-hitter Jose Ortiz's single to left. Kent Mercker (1-0) pitched the seventh and eighth to earn the
win, his first since Aug. 22, 2000. Mercker was out of baseball
last season. Jose Jimenez pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in as
many opportunities as the Rockies went to 16-8 under Hurdle. The Rockies, in fifth place in the NL West since April 11, moved
into a fourth-place tie with the Padres. Colorado's Mike Hampton went six innings, allowing eight hits
and three runs and departing with the score tied at 3. Padres starter Brian Lawrence allowed 12 hits and three runs in
seven innings. "That was a great job by Brian,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy
said. "He deserved better. "We don't deserve to win the way we played the last two nights.
We've played horrible baseball, and the little things have just
killed us. There's no excuse for the kind of ball we have played
here.'' San Diego scored a run in the first on Ron Gant's RBI single,
but Hampton escaped further damage, snagging Wiki Gonzalez's wicked
liner for the third out with the bases loaded. Mark Kotsay doubled over the head of left fielder Todd
Hollandsworth and scored on Gant's single to left. Ryan Klesko and
Deivi Cruz both walked before Hampton retired Gonzalez. "Hampton probably made the play of the game right there,''
Hurdle said. "Speared a line drive, that's two runs. Who knows
what happens after that? He didn't have his best stuff, but he
battled and got us deeper into the game.'' The Rockies made it 3-1 in their half, opening the game with
four straight singles off Lawrence. Larry Walker and Todd Helton
had RBI singles. After Zeile's double-play groundout, Todd
Hollandsworth reached on an infield single to produce another run. Lawrence then blanked the Rockies over the next six innings. San Diego had runners on first and second with one out in the
third, but Hampton struck out Bubba Trammell and got Cruz on a
fielder's-choice grounder. In the fourth, the Padres cut the deficit to 3-2. Gonzalez led
off with a double and went to third on Lawrence's one-out single.
Gonzalez then scored on D'Angelo Jimenez's groundout. Cruz's RBI single tied it in the fifth. Gant led off with a walk
but was erased on a double play when Klesko struck out on a called
high strike. Gant, apparently thinking it was ball four, trotted
nearly to second base before being tagged out in a rundown.
Trammell then doubled and scored on Cruz's single. Gant subsequently was ejected by home plate umpire Jim Joyce for
arguing from the dugout.
Juan Uribe led off the Rockies' fifth with a double and Walker
followed with a walk. But Uribe was erased when Helton lined out to
second baseman Jimenez, who stepped on second for a double play.
Gant returned to the lineup one day after coming off the DL
(broken finger). ... Rockies 2B Ortiz did not start, and was
replaced by Butler. ... Hampton won his previous two starts at
Coors Field, allowing only three runs in 15 innings. ... Lawrence
struck out the side in the second inning on 10 pitches. Lawrence
also had two hits, a career high.