Hampton earns second win in three starts

DENVER (AP) -- Two months ago, Mike Hampton was struggling so much the Colorado Rockies considered sending to the bullpen.

It's a good thing they didn't.

Hampton pitched six strong innings and Colorado took advantage
of sloppy fielding by San Diego for a 9-6 victory over the Padres
on Friday night.

Hampton, the highest paid pitcher in baseball, opened the season 1-5. Over his last five starts, though, he has shown signs that he might be returning to the form that led the Rockies to sign him to a $121 million, eight-year contract before last season.

With a fastball that reached into the mid-90s and a sinker that
kept the Padres off-balance most of the night, Hampton (5-9) won
for the second time in three starts.

He allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings, just the
seventh time in 18 starts he has allowed three or fewer earned

"It's a step in the right direction for him to give him some
confidence,'' Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "We feel good
about it, I think he feels good about it. It's been a long way
since two months ago.''

Colorado won for the third time in 10 games and improved to 6-2 against San Diego this season.

But it wasn't easy.

With Denny Stark pitching in the ninth and a runner on first,
shortstop Juan Uribe committed an error on a ball that could have
ended the game.

After Deivi Cruz walked to load the bases, Ryan Klesko made it
9-5 with a single to left. Ron Gant knocked in another run with a
bloop single to right, but Jose Jimenez got Bubba Trammell to
ground out for his 22nd save.

"That's what a closer does, is close it out,'' Hurdle said.
"But I would have liked to not have seen him pitch tonight.''

The Padres had four errors that led to five unearned runs for their fifth consecutive loss. San Diego has lost 11 of 13 overall and eight of nine on the road.

"The errors killed us,'' San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said.
"We aren't a team that can go out and bang it out with teams anyway. To give a team extra outs with four errors and all those extra runs is going to hurt you, especially in this ballpark. No one is happy in this clubhouse.''

Colorado scored four in the first against Brett Tomko (4-6)
after three defensive miscues by the Padres.

Brent Butler reached on a single after no one covered first on a
high chopper to the right side, and Larry Walker followed with a
run-scoring double.

Todd Zeile made it 2-0 with a single after a throwing error by
shortstop Cruz, then Colorado scored two more after Cruz threw
another ball away for an error on a groundball by Uribe.

Tomko allowed five runs -- three earned -- on six hits in five
innings. He has just one win in his last 10 starts.

"Brett Tomko had some of the best stuff he's had all year,''
San Diego's Tom Lampkin said. "He threw some real sharp breaking
balls, but we didn't help him. The results weren't rewarded.''

The Padres cut the lead to 5-3 after D'Angelo Jimenez's
run-scoring single in the sixth inning, but started kicking the
ball around again in the bottom half.

Juan Pierre put the Rockies up 6-3 with a run-scoring single
with two outs, then scored after center fielder Mark Kotsay
couldn't cut off a double to right-center by Butler and was charged
with an error.

The inning appeared to be over when Walker hit a groundball to
second base, but Julius Matos misplayed the ball for another error,
causing Bochy to rub his face in disgust. Todd Helton followed with
a two-run double that made it 9-3.

"It was a big win all around,'' Pierre said. "We came up with
some big hits. We just would like to get on a roll here, go into
the All-Star break and carry it over.''

Butler finished 3-for-5 for his fifth straight multihit game. He is 12-for-24 in that span.

Klesko hit Hampton's first pitch of the fourth inning into the
Padres' bullpen for his 15th homer of the season.

Colorado's Todd Hollandsworth had a run-scoring triple in the third.

Game notes
Ray Lankford became the 13th San Diego player to go on the
disabled list this season due to a strained right hamstring. ...
Cruz had nine errors in the previous 80 games before making two in
the first inning. ... Butler has scored in five straight games. ...
San Diego's starters have no wins in the last 13 games. Oliver
Perez's victory over the Yankees on June 21 was the last time a
Padres starter won a game. ... Zeile's RBI in the first was the
998th of his career.