Rockies look to bounce back against Padres

SAN DIEGO — The Colorado Rockies did not lose any ground in the National League West race Friday night despite a second straight loss to the cellar-dwelling Padres.

But they did lose a position in the three-way National League West race. And climbing over two teams to get back to first can be more difficult than making up the deficit now that the Rockies are 1 1/2 games out of the National League West lead.

However, the first order of business is getting a win against the Padres, who crushed the Rockies 7-0 Friday night after scoring a 3-2, 13-inning walk-off win in Thursday’s opener of the four-game series at Petco Park.

The Rockies go into Saturday night’s game in San Diego having lost four of their last five games to tumble from a tie for first to third place in the division. They are looking up at first-place Arizona and the Dodgers in the standings — and the set at San Diego might be remembered as a pivotal series for the Rockies unless they battle back for a split.

And while the Dodgers and Diamondbacks both already have double-digit wins against the Padres with a series remaining, the Rockies are only 9-8 against a team that was on pace to lose 100 games before their current four-game winning streak started Tuesday.

The Rockies will be sending right-hander Jon Gray (10-7, 4.67 ERA) to the mound Saturday night in a pairing against Padres’ left-hander Robbie Erlin (3-4, 3.69). Erlin happens to be the only non-rookie in the Padres rotation at the moment.

Gray had a no-decision last Monday in Colorado’s 10-7, interleague loss to the Angels in Anaheim. He gave up five runs and seven hits over six innings in that game.

That broke a streak of nine straight wins by the Rockies in games started by Gray dating back to June 22. Gray was 4-0 with a 3.02 ERA in those starts. The Rockies have also won four of five starts since Gray returned from Triple-A Albuquerque on Aug. 5.

Gray has had success against the Padres. He is 7-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 14 career starts against the Padres, and Gray is 3-1 this season against the Padres with a 3.33 ERA in four starts. Gray is 3-2 with a 2.57 ERA in six career starts at Petco Park, giving up 10 earned runs in 35 innings.

Gray has pitched better in the rarified air of Coors Field this season than he has on the road. He is 6-3 at home with a 4.56 ERA in 12 starts with an opponents’ batting average of .263. On the road he is 4-4 with a 4.95 ERA in 13 starts.

Erlin will be making his 35th appearance of the season and his eighth start. He is 2-1 with a 4.21 ERA since returning to the rotation on Aug. 2.

Erlin has already made six appearances against the Rockies this season, but only one start. That start came on Aug. 21 at Coors Field when he held Colorado to three runs on five hits and no walks with six strikeouts over five innings to get the win.

Overall, Erlin is 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA against the Rockies this season, and he is 4-2 with 6.06 ERA in 12 career appearances (five starts) against them.