DENVER — — Yu Darvish’s fourth pitch of the game went deep to the right.
Don’t panic that it could be a long night at Coors Field, batting friend. He just made the adjustments confidently like he has done all season.
Darvish settled in after giving up a first home run and earned his 16th career victory as the San Diego Padres climbed to second place in the NL wildcard race by beating the Colorado Rockies 9-3 on Saturday .
“Once again, he’s giving us a solid outing,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said.
Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim each had two-run singles as part of a six-run seventh that turned a 3-2 game into a rout. The Padres advanced half a game over Philadelphia, with the surging Milwaukee Brewers just 1½ games behind the Phillies for third and final place.
Darvish (16-7) struck out eight innings in six effective innings to tie the winning streak he set as a rookie with Texas in 2012. The reigning NL Player of the Week saw his streak of 16 straight scoreless innings ended on his fourth pitch, when Ryan McMahon lined up a split finger on the right fence.
The right-hander found his form to make his 24th quality start.
“It’s one of the funniest seasons,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “Really dig into what the hitters are trying to do and study the hitters in depth. With that knowledge in the game, it’s been fun.
His preparation has been excellent for Melvin.
“He is very curious. Always finding better ways to do things,” Melvin explained. “For a guy who is throwing as well as he has for a long period of his career, constantly trying to improve, that’s cool to watch.”
Collapsed center fielder Trent Grisham contributed with his glove in the fifth inning. His sliding, headfirst trap from Randal Grichuk’s two-out understudy left divots in the grass – and prevented the potential draw from scoring.
“He’s been playing Gold-Glove defensive all year,” Padres third baseman Manny Machado said. “Things don’t always go your way at home plate, but he goes out there and plays stellar defense every time.”
Melvin changed his batting order with his team in a two-game mini slump. He inserted Cronenworth into the cleaning place and the move paid off. Cronenworth’s RBI single in the third gave Darvish and the Padres a 2-1 lead.
It was a rare victory for the Padres at Coors Field, where they are now 4-14 the past two seasons.
Chad Kuhl (6-10) was solid in 5 2/3 innings. He allowed three runs and six hits.
“His things are always good,” Rockies manager Bud Black said of Kuhl. “He did his job in many ways.”
Grichuk homered in the eighth for Colorado. He dug his bat into the ground shortly after throwing his 17th homer.
Rockies: 1B CJ Cron (bruised left hand) missed a third straight game. … RHP Alex Colomé has been reinstated on the mourners list.
THE TROUBLES OF THE ROCKIES
Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt cited health as the reason the Rockies will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Specifically, slugger Kris Bryant, who was limited to 42 games due to back pain and plantar fasciitis.
“Weird little injuries,” Schmidt said. “You can’t plan these things.”
Cron captured the highlights of former teammate Albert Pujols hitting his 700th career home run. Cron learned a lot watching Pujols as a young player when they were both with the Los Angeles Angels.
“If you know Albert, you knew (the 700 home run mark) is something he would rise to the occasion,” Cron said a day after Pujols ran twice for St. Louis to reach. the milestone.
Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar went 1 of 4 with three strikeouts a day after becoming the team’s youngest position player to make his major league debut. Tovar couldn’t field Kim’s helicopter in the seventh which sank in left field. It was deemed a success.
The Rockies close out their home schedule Sunday with Denver native Kyle Freeland (9-10, 4.38 ERA) on the mound. The Padres will start right-hander Mike Clevinger (6-7, 4.23).