Rockies in must-win mode vs. Padres

SAN DIEGO — This is crunch time for the Colorado Rockies, who dropped 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West race late Thursday night by suffering a 13-inning, walk-off loss to the Padres at Petco Park.

Not only did the Rockies lose while the Diamondbacks were beating the Dodgers, Colorado used five of its eight relievers.

Yes, help is on the way. The rosters can be expanded Saturday. But there is still Friday’s game to play and the Rockies can’t afford to lose again to the division’s last-place Padres.

So the pressure will be on right-hander Antonio Senzatela Friday night to not only defeat the Padres — who have won three straight games — but to go deep into the game to prevent more damage to the bullpen. The effects of a 13-inning loss can linger.

Senzatela (4-4, 5.24 ERA) will face Padres right-handed rookie Brett Kennedy (0-2, 7.58 ERA) Friday night in the second game of a four-game series. The Rockies came to San Diego looking for a sweep or three wins to gain a little ground in the National League West as their playoff rivals dueled in Los Angeles.

Senzatela was originally scheduled to start Thursday but was given an extra day off before his 18th appearance of the season for the Rockies and his eighth start. He has worked a total of 56 2/3 innings, giving up 34 runs (33 earned) on 61 hits and 20 walks with 42 strikeouts for a 1.43 WHIP and a .272 opponents’ batting average.

Senzatela struggled in his last outing and has had problems on the road this season.

Against St. Louis on Aug. 24, Senzatela allowed seven runs on 10 hits (two home runs) and a walk over 4 1/3 innings to take the loss against the Cardinals.

Senzatela is 1-3 on the road this season with a 5.46 ERA in 10 appearances (four starts). In the four starts, he is 0-2 with a 5.24 ERA.

Senzatela has had a degree of success against the Padres. He is 4-0 with a 4.00 ERA in nine career appearances (three starts). But in four relief appearances against the Padres this season, Senzatela has allowed five runs in 7 1/3 innings for a 6.14 ERA. However, he won his lone decision against San Diego this year.

He is 1-0 with a 5.19 ERA in four appearances (one start) at Petco Park.

Meanwhile, the Padres’ auditions for starting spots continue with Kennedy’s fifth start Friday night. The 23-year-old is one of four rookies currently in the Padres’ rotation.

With more future rotation candidates expected to arrive Saturday, Kennedy might need a strong outing Friday night to keep his spot in the rotation. Thus far he has given up 16 runs on 31 hits and six walks with 14 strikeouts in 19 innings. In addition to the inflated ERA, he has a 1.95 WHIP and a .373 opponents’ batting average.