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Friars mount rally, but fall just shy to Rox

Friars mount rally, but fall just shy

DENVER -- On the top step of the visiting dugout in a steady rain, Padres manager Bud Black watched the final out of Tuesday's game, a line drive off the bat of Nick Hundley, land in the glove of Seth Smith, securing a Rockies victory.

As the last of the Padres baserunners sought shelter in the dry clubhouse, Black stopped each of them as they ran by, handing out handshakes, back slaps and anything other than condolences after San Diego fell to Colorado, 11-10.

There was no head-hanging after the Padres dropped the first game of a three-game series against the Rockies, a team with more to play for this week. Instead, it was merely a way to reinforce what has been happening the past six weeks.

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"Our guys keep playing, that's been a sign of this team," Black said. "How many games have we had when we were five [runs] down? It's a good sign. We fought back, we had some good at-bats."

No more so than in the ninth inning when the Padres (69-83) scored four runs and got the tying run to third base before Hundley jumped on the second pitch he saw from Colorado pitcher Franklin Morales, sending a screamer to Smith, who hardly moved.

"I thought he [Smith] took a step in ... and I thought it had a chance to get past him," said Hundley, who entered the game minutes earlier as a pinch-hitter. "That was a tough one ... especially to watch us battle back -- the guys put together some quality at-bats."

The Padres certainly put a scare into the Rockies (86-65), who are now five games ahead of the Giants and Braves in the National League Wild Card race -- twice. San Diego was down, 5-2, in the second inning and then, of course, nearly came back from an 11-6 deficit in the ninth inning.

Adrian Gonzalez and Oscar Salazar each had two-run singles during the ninth inning and Chase Headley took an important walk, advancing to third base where he was stranded as Hundley made the final out.

The greeting by Black on the top step of the dugout after the game was more than merely a symbolic gesture -- at least that's how his players took it. This is, after all, a team that's won seven games this season when they've trailed after seven innings and five games in which they trailed after eight innings.

That's something, they could all agree, seldom, if ever, happened last season during the 99-loss season that's about as far away as the sun was on Tuesday, when the temperature at game time was 48 degrees with cloudy skies and rain in the forecast.

"Buddy is as competitive as they come and while there's no moral victories, coming back like this, in the rain, from five runs down, that's pretty impressive," Hundley said. "We are just going to keep on grinding."

The Padres got buried early on as starter Edward Mujica allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. Without the benefit of relievers Heath Bell and Luke Gregerson, who were down before the game because of frequent use, San Diego's relievers were responsible for seven of the eight walks the staff issued.

Aaron Poreda and Luis Perdomo each walked three batters.

That the Rockies had 14 hits, including a three-run homer by Brad Hawpe, didn't help things much either.

"This was sort of like an old school Denver game," Black said. "You don't want to get in a situation in this park where you're walking guys ... and we did."

There were 12 combined runs scored in the first three innings on Tuesday, six from each side. Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa, a 15-game winner, completed 2 1/3 innings and was gone, having allowed six runs on six hits.

Mujica, a long reliever making his third start, allowed six runs (five earned) in 2 2/3 innings before Black went to a taxed bullpen that got plenty of work in Monday's 11-inning victory in Pittsburgh.

Rookie left-hander Cesar Ramos gave the Padres 39 pitches and 2 1/3 innings in relief as he struck out three and allowed one run. Perdomo, another reliever capable of going long, allowed two earned runs in 1 1/3 innings, but again, had the three walks.

Gonzalez had three hits and drove in two runs, giving him 94 this season. Older brother Edgar Gonzalez had two hits, including a three-run double, before leaving in the seventh inning after he diving attempt at a ball hit by Clint Barmes that became a two-run inside-the-park home run.

Gonzalez left the game with a partially dislocated left shoulder. The injury is similar to one Gonzalez had in the Minor Leagues and when he played college baseball at San Diego State. He doesn't expect to miss more than a couple of games.

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

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