DENVER – Losers of 13 of their past 17 games and having watched a large first-place lead melt to nothing, the Padres to a man were on the top step of their dugout, hanging on the railing, when Miguel Tejada stepped up in the first inning with one out and one on.
The white-hot Rockies had won 10 in a row in what has evolved into a riveting NL West race.
With Tejada at the plate, the Padres' case of suspended animation was about to continue.
He battled Colorado starter Jeff Francis for nine pitches before ripping a two-run homer well over the left-field wall to kick-start San Diego's 6-4 win and break Colorado's 10-game winning streak.
For a badly slumping team that had scored only 38 runs over its past 17 games, Tejada produced exactly what was needed.
"He fought," manager Bud Black said. "Francis threw him everything. Miggy had some reactionary swings to some pitches, and he fought some balls off."
Tejada was behind in the count 0-1 and 1-2 before fouling off one pitch, taking a ball, fouling off another pitch, taking ball three and then fouling off two more. Then, bam. He crushed a full-count, 89 m.p.h. fastball.
"That was a great at-bat," Black said. "Those at-bats in a game, over the course of the game and after, you look back and say, 'That was a hell of an at-bat.'"
The Padres led 5-0 but, as is typical in Coors Field, the Rockies charged back to within 5-4 -- Troy Tulowitzski's three-run homer in the fifth aided that -- before San Diego's six-man relief effort over 4 1/3 innings halted them.
"You talk about this park, a four- or five-run lead is really a one- or two-run lead," Black said. "You never really know how a game is going to play out here. You really don't."
Likes: Great drama in the ninth when, with the Padres ahead 6-4, closer Heath Bell walked leadoff man Seth Smith to ensure he would have to face smoking hot Carlos Gonzalez. Sure enough, CarGo, leading the NL in batting average, stepped to the plate with two out and one on. Bell induced a bouncer to shortstop. "Tonight, I broke his bat and I won," Bell said. "Hopefully, I don't have to face him tomorrow." ... Great game in Tampa, er, St. Petersburg on Monday. Tampa Bay moves into first place in the AL East with the 1-0 win. David Price and CC Sabathia lived up to the billing, one day after Tim Lincecum-Mat Latos didn't (well, Latos didn't) in the Giants-Padres battle in San Diego. ... Fontano's Chicago Subs in Denver. Had never been there before until lunch Monday, but will be back. ... Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central drilling Riverview on the high school football field Friday night. Excellent win in moving to 2-1. Next victim for the Falcons: Flat Rock.
Dislikes: Hate to see Florida shut down ace Josh Johnson with back issues, but it's the smart thing to do. So many people don't realize how good that guy is. ... The Video Music Awards the other night. Watched the first 30 minutes, and I never realized what a classless pig Chelsea Handler is. I've seen her books, but wow, her act was tiresome quick.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Born into Nixon I was raised in hell
"A welfare child where the teamsters dwelled
"The last one born, and the first one to run
"My town was blind from refinery sun
"My generation is zero
"I never made it as a working class hero
"21st century breakdown
"I once was lost but never was found
"I think I am losing what's left of my mind
"To the 20th century deadline"
-- Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown