By Michael Kelly, Associated Press
The Colorado Rockies celebrated their past and then continued the push to add another chapter to their playoff record book.
Tyler Chatwood pitched into the sixth inning and drove in his first runs of the season, Nolan Arenado homered and the Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 6-1 on Friday night.
Colorado remained 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee and moved 3 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis for the second NL wild card. The Cardinals lost to the Cubs on Friday, and the Brewers beat Miami.
The Rockies (81-67) are assured of their first non-losing season since 2010.
Colorado is striving for more than a winning record. It is trying to reach the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons and fourth time overall.
The Rockies continued their postseason drive Friday with a nod to history.
They hosted 18 players and three coaches from the 2007 NL pennant-winning team, including franchise icon Todd Helton. The former players saw the Rockies pick up their ninth win in 12 games.
“It’s cool to see those guys come back, especially after what those guys accomplished,” Chatwood said. “I actually played with a couple of those guys so it was nice to see those guys before the game.”
None of the current Rockies have experienced the success of the 2007 team, which won 21 of 22 games to reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. This Colorado squad is trying to reach those heights, and beating the Padres on this brief three-game homestand is critical.
The Rockies did their damage with two outs in the second off Clayton Richard (7-14). San Diego intentionally walked Jonathan Lucroy to load the bases, and Chatwood knocked in the first two runs with a single to right.
“That was a big hit. When you load the bases to get to the pitcher with two outs that can be back breaking,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “That was very, very critical.”
DJ LeMahieu followed with a two-run triple off the right-field scoreboard to make it 4-0.
“Of course (it’s frustrating),” Richard said. “I thought it was a ball I could get to. And then just as much frustration going 0-2 the next at-bat and not executing the pitch.”
Chatwood (8-12) tossed 5 2/3 innings and left after Wil Myers’ solo homer, his 28th. It was Chatwood’s third start after six relief appearances.
After tossing 75 pitches in a win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday and 94 Friday he feels he has slowly built back into longer starts.
“It’s big going forward,” he said. “I think I’m on a normal pitch count, so that’s nice.”
Arenado led off the ninth with his 34th homer. Trevor Story followed with a triple and scored on Ian Desmond’s sacrifice fly.
Above and beyond
Helton said he knew Arenado would be a great third baseman, but he never expected his former teammate to become an elite slugger.
Helton’s last season with the Rockies was Arenado’s first, when the rookie hit .267 with 10 homers in 133 games in 2013. He hit 18 homers in 2014, but turned into a true power hitter in the years since while still playing Gold Glove defense.
Arenado tied for the most homers in the NL in 2015-16, with 42 and 41, respectively, and led the majors in RBIs both seasons.
He leads the majors again this season with 124 RBIs to go with his 34 homers.
“I envisioned him being a defensive whiz, which he is. He’s got to be the best third baseman, defensively, to come along in a long, long time,” Helton said. “I never would have expected him to put up the power numbers that he has and drive in the amount of runs he has.
“I’m excited for him. He’s a reason to come to the ballpark every day, as a fan, to get to watch a guy like that. He sells tickets.”