Padres look to Richard for 2nd win in a row vs Rockies

SAN DIEGO — Clayton Richard had a “rockie” time with Colorado last season.

The Padres‘ left-hander made four starts against Colorado and was 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts.

But those weren’t the key stats. The Rockies hit .384 against Richard with 38 hits in 22 2/3 innings. They also had a .421 on-base percentage and a .525 slugging percentage for a .946 OPS.

Twenty-one of those hits, however, came in 9 2/3 innings in two starts at Coors Field, where Richards gave up 15 runs (14 earned) for a 13.03 ERA.

Richard is a different beast at Petco Park. He is 30-26 at Petco with a 3.20 ERA in 74 games (72 starts).

But his opponent Wednesday night also has some solid numbers at Petco Park as well as overall against the Padres.

Colorado right-hander Jon Gray is 2-2 in five starts at Petco Park with a 3.21 ERA. In his only start in downtown San Diego last season, Gray held the Padres to a run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in six innings.

Truth is, Gray is tough on the Padres even in the rarified air of Coors Field. Last season, Gray was 2-0 overall against the Padres with 22 strikeouts in 17 innings over three starts. For his career, Gray is 4-2 against the Padres with a 2.40 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 60 innings over 10 starts. The Padres are batting only .209 against Gray.

Both Richard and Gray were their respective team’s Opening Day starters. And both will be seeking their first wins of the season Wednesday.

At least the Padres won’t. Behind three homers and five RBIs by third baseman Christian Villanueva, the Padres defeated Colorado 8-4 Tuesday night to end a four-game, season-opening losing streak. The last time the Padres had been 0-4 to start the season was 1988.

Richard pitched well enough to win his first Opening Day start at the age of 34. He held the Milwaukee Brewers to a run on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts over six innings. But Milwaukee scored a 2-1 win in 12 innings.

“Clayton gave us a professional start,” said Padres manager Andy Green. “It was nothing less than what we’ve come to expect of Clayton. He battles. He never gives you less than everything he has. And he knows how to work a game.”

In his second Opening Day start, Gray last only four innings against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix. He allowed three runs on six hits and three walks and took the loss in Arizona’s 8-2 win.

“But we’ve seen what he can do,” Green said. “He’s been very tough on us.”

Gray has won 10 games each of the past two seasons. Last year he was 10-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 20 starts. He had 112 strikeouts in 110 1/3 innings. He missed six weeks early in the season with a stress fracture of his left foot.