Padres leave Wild Card door open

Padres leave Wild Card door open

DENVER -- One of the luxuries of being knee-deep in a postseason chase with still three weeks remaining in the regular season is that no one game has a greater importance than the one that was played the day before.

Even in the postseason push of September, a short memory is nice to have.

This is why the Padres likely won't look back on the events that happened on Sunday at Coors Field with any degree of fondness, certainly not with the way they ran themselves out of a 4-2 loss to the Rockies before a crowd of 20,260.

The Padres (77-65), who are now 2-4 on a nine-game road swing against the very teams they're fighting for postseason position with, stranded 10 baserunners and had three runners thrown out on the bases -- including two at the plate during the same inning.

"We were playing good, aggressive baseball," Padres manager Bud Black said of two important plays in the fourth inning, when Morgan Ensberg and Michael Barrett were thrown out at the plate. "We forced the Rockies to make plays ... and they did."

Despite losing two of three games to the Rockies, the Padres are still two games ahead of the Phillies in the National League Wild Card standings and 2 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers. Despite the 2-4 start to this road trip, San Diego has dropped only one game in the Wild Card race.

The Padres open a three-game series at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

As for Sunday's defeat, San Diego certainly felt things could have been different had a few plays, especially on the basepaths, gone the other way.

In the fourth inning, Ensberg was thrown out when Barrett lined an RBI double into the left-field corner. Barrett was then thrown out at the plate after a single up the middle by pitcher Chris Young later in the inning, as Barrett opted not to slide.

"A loss is a loss, but at this time of year, they hurt," Barrett said. "Looking back at it, I made a personal blunder [in not sliding]. 101 baserunning tells you to slide there. Being indecisive is what cost us."

The Padres also had Ensberg thrown out at second base, and during an especially fitful eighth inning, Barrett didn't advance on a wild pitch by Brian Fuentes that preceded a pinch-hit RBI single by Kevin Kouzmanoff that could have tied the score had Barrett advanced to second base.

That inning ended when pinch-hitter Brian Myrow bounced into a double play with the potentially tying run at third base, as Kouzmanoff was tagged out on the basepaths on Myrow's ground ball to second baseman Omar Quintanilla.

Colorado's Matt Holliday added a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning off Padres' reliever Cla Meredith.

The home run by Holliday was only the fourth hit of the game for the Rockies (74-68), who got a two-run home run from Garrett Atkins in the first inning and an RBI double from Todd Helton off Young (9-7).

Young again showed that he might be closer to recovering from the injuries that have dogged him since he strained his oblique at Coors Field in July, as his command was sharper at times Sunday than it's been in recent starts.

Young allowed just two hits over five innings, with five walks and eight strikeouts. He looked very good at times, striking out the side in the fifth inning. He also looked lost with his command at other times, like in the fourth inning, when he walked three batters.

"I was better today than I've been," Young said. "There were a couple of times when I lost mechanics, but I felt like I threw the ball well. I don't evaluate on results. I threw the ball better today than my results [show]."

Colorado manager Clint Hurdle was certainly impressed with Young, who ran up a high pitch count (99) in five innings, though that was at least partly due to the number of strikeouts he had.

"Young, he was really good, or he was just a little off as far as five walks and hit batter, but he had eight punchouts," Hurdle said. "... He's tough to square up. You look at his numbers and the batting average against, and the guy's not easy to hit."

Young, who hasn't won a game since July 19, said the fifth inning -- when he struck out Jamey Carroll, Troy Tulowitzki and Holliday -- was "the best I've felt in a while." Black was certainly encouraged by the way Young pitched and the way he continues to pitch better each and every outing.

"I am more encouraged today than I have been," Black said. "His command just left him at times but he reeled himself back in."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.