The hottest team in baseball is making life even sunnier in southern California. And all those wins are keeping alive faint playoff hopes.
The Padres (69-75) have won four in a row and seven of eight, playing some of their best baseball just in time to make a late playoff push. While they are still under .500, they are within striking distance of the Cardinals and Dodgers – who are playing each other this weekend – for the second NL wild-card spot.
"It's a long season and you don't know what's going to happen," Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "Right now we're 6½ games back in the wild card. Baseball is a crazy sport."
San Diego has been the NL's best team over the last month, going 17-5 since August 19. The Padres beat St. Louis 3-2 on Wednesday to complete their first three-game sweep of the Cardinals since August 1995.
"I take it personally as a compliment to our players that we're able to do that," said San Diego manager Bud Black , whose team has won 21 of its last 27 at home.
San Diego has only 18 games remaining to make its move, and the next 15 will be against division opponents before finishing with a three-game set against Milwaukee.
Logan Forsythe has been one of those leading the charge. He had a solo home run on Wednesday, and is hitting .359 with 11 runs and 11 RBIs over his last 18 games.
Andrew Cashner (3-3, 3.46 ERA) makes his second start since returning from the disabled list with a strained muscle. He gave up two runs and four hits in five innings last Friday against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander made two relief appearances against the Rockies earlier in the year, but this will be his first career start against Colorado.
The Rockies (57-85) are just trying to avoid finishing with the worst record in franchise history after a brutal streak to close out the season. Colorado has lost eight of 10 and needs to play .500 ball the rest of the way to avoid a franchise-worst season. The Rockies went 67-95 in their inaugural 1993 season and also in 2005.
The lone bright spot for Colorado has been rookie Wilin Rosario , who homered in an 8-3 loss to San Francisco on Wednesday. His next one will tie Todd Helton 's for the franchise rookie record of 25 set in 1998.
"Compile me a list of guys who catch who is sitting on the potential for 30-plus and 100-plus because that's what this kid's offensive ceiling is capable of," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Tyler Chatwood (4-4, 5.32 ERA) starts for the Rockies on Friday. He's made two relief appearances against San Diego this season, giving up seven hits and three earned runs in two innings pitched.
The Padres are 8-7 against the Rockies this season.
|September 10, 2012||Ramon Hernandez||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left hamstring strain|
|August 22, 2012||Dexter Fowler||Day-to-Day||Left game - right ankle injury|
|August 20, 2012||Eric Young||15-Day DL||Left intercostal strain|
|August 19, 2012||Michael Cuddyer||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|August 19, 2012||Josh Rutledge||Day-to-Day||Left game - left quad tightness|
|August 14, 2012||Drew Pomeranz||Day-to-Day||Chest soreness|
|San Diego Padres|
|September 11, 2012||Carlos Quentin||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 23, 2012||Jason Marquis||15-Day DL||Fractured left wrist|
|August 17, 2012||Nick Hundley||Day-to-Day||Bruised right knee|
|August 16, 2012||Nick Hundley||60-Day DL||Bruised right knee|
|August 11, 2012||Huston Street||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|July 31, 2012||Yasmani Grandal||15-Day DL||Strained oblique|
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Carlos Gonzalez has stood out as one of the few bright spots for the last-place Colorado Rockies .
Rookies Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco had consecutive two-run doubles in the first inning to lead the Rockies to a 7-4 win over the San Diego Padres on Friday night.
But Gonzalez quietly went about his job by equaling his career high with four hits, all singles. He also stole two bases to become the first Rockie to reach the 20-20 club in three consecutive seasons.
"It means a lot because every year in spring training I always try to get better and get better numbers than the year before and stay consistent," Gonzalez said. "I'm always trying to get better and maybe in future I can do better things."
Rockies manager Jim Tracy appreciates Gonzalez's consistent play and the example he sets for the younger players.
"Carlos just plays, just like we are seeing with Dexter Fowler ," Tracy said. "They are continuing to play. I think that's very important, that message to be sent to our younger players."
Gonzalez had his breakout season in 2010 when he set career highs in batting (.336), homers (34), RBIs (117) and stolen bases (26). He followed that up by hitting .296 with 26 homers and stealing 20 bases last season.
When he stole second base in the ninth inning, it gave Gonzalez 22 home runs with 20 stolen bases.
"I never stopped believing that my swing is going to get back to where I want it," Gonzalez said.
There's not much left to play for in a season when Colorado has clinched last place in the NL West. But the Rockies (58-85) still need to win 10 of their final 19 games to avoid tying the club's worst record at 67-95.
Chris Nelson and rookie Charlie Blackmon each hit solo homers as the Rockies won for just the third time in 11 games. Nelson tied his career high with three hits.
Rosario and Pacheco's big hits keyed a five-run first inning in which Colorado sent 10 men to the plate against Andrew Cashner (3-4).
Rookie Yonder Alonso hit a grand slam in the first inning for San Diego, which had won seven of eight overall and 11 of its previous 13 at home.
"We got right back in the game with the grand slam," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We had a couple of opportunities, but couldn't come away with a big hit to keep anything going."
Guillermo Moscoso (3-1), the second of five Rockies relievers, allowed two hits in 1 2-3 scoreless innings. Rafael Betancourt pitched the ninth for his 29th saves in 34 chances.
Cashner lasted just 3 2-3 innings, giving up six runs on 10 hits. The right-hander was making his second start since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 1.
After San Diego cut the Rockies' lead to 5-4 in the first inning, Nelson gave the Rockies a 6-4 lead with a solo homer, his ninth, in the third inning. Blackmon hit his first homer in the eighth off Brad Boxberger .
Colorado scored five runs in the first as the first five players reached base safely in an inning that included three infield singles and a hit batter.
After the Rockies loaded the bases, Rosario hit a ball that short hopped the wall in left center for a two-run double. Pacheco then doubled in two more runs. Nelson's high chopper with one out went for an infield single to drive in the final run.
The Padres got right back in the game as Tyler Chatwood allowed one-out singles to Will Venable and Chase Headley before loading the bases by walking Yasmani Grandal . Alonso followed by hitting a 2-1 fastball into the left-field stands for his first career grand slam.
NOTES: Cashner got his first big-league hit with a bunt single in the second. .. Starting Friday night, Colorado closes out the season with 20 consecutive games. .. San Diego radio announcer Jerry Coleman celebrated his 88th birthday Friday. The Padres have a pre-game ceremony scheduled Saturday to honor Coleman's 70 years in baseball. .. Rockies LHP Jorge De La Rosa is scheduled to make his third rehab start for Single-A Modesto on Saturday night in Game 3 of the California League Championship Series against Lancaster. Colorado would like De La Rosa to start a major league game before the end of the season. De La Rosa hasn't pitched in the majors since he underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2011. .. Padres LF Carlos Quentin 's sore right knee kept him out of the starting lineup for the third straight game. .. Rockies LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-8, 4.80) faces Padres RHP Casey Kelly (1-1, 7.07) on Saturday night.