SAN DIEGO (AP) It's the $250 million question: Why has it taken until Sept. 20 for the high-priced San Diego Padres to start playing like everyone thought they would have all season?
The Padres extended their season-best winning streak to seven games by beating the last-place Colorado Rockies 3-2 on Wednesday. Luis Campusano tied the game with a bases-loaded single with one out in the seventh and Ji Man Choi followed with a sacrifice fly for his first RBI with the Padres.
“We kind of proved it to ourselves that it's in there," said shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who hit a walk-off, two-run homer the night before. "Really sad and it sucks that it took long, but I really have no answer for that.”
Campusano and Choi were both pinch-hitting and the moves paid off for manager Bob Melvin, whose Padres have struggled offensively most of this underwhelming season.
Campusano lofted a single to right to bring in Juan Soto, who started the rally with a walk. Choi’s fly ball to the warning track in center brought in Trent Grisham, who was pinch-running for Garrett Cooper, who singled and advanced on Matthew Batten’s single.
“Two really good at-bats when we needed them,” Melvin said. “Our pinch-hit numbers have been horrible this year. A lot of things we have not done this year very well are showing up here during the streak.”
Choi, obtained from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline, still doesn’t have a hit with the Padres. He missed 29 games with a left ribcage strain.
“I'm very happy that we got the win overall, but also a little disappointed because I thought it was a pretty good line drive that ended up getting caught,” Choi said through an interpreter.
Said Bogaerts: “You see it today, guys coming off the bench and getting the job done. For the most part of the year, some get it done; more times than not we don't get it done. It's been a grind. I’m sure we all are happy the way we are finishing. We're still hoping for a miracle. We're still in until they tell us otherwise.”
The Padres came into Wednesday 5 1/2 games back in the race for the NL’s third wild-card spot, with four teams ahead of them. The Padres, who have been under .500 since May 12, have nine games left. San Diego reached the NL Championship Series last year and then increased its payroll to about $250 million, the third-highest in the majors.
It took a sweep of the Oakland Athletics, who have the worst record in the majors, for the Padres to win four consecutive games, the last team in the majors to do so this season. They extended the streak by sweeping the Rockies, who have the NL’s worst record.
Asked if there's a level of frustration, Bogaerts said: “In honesty, you’d probably say yeah, right? But it would be worse if we never found it. It's still bad that it took long but at least we figured out what was in there and we’re kind of showing it right now. This is what everyone expected, this is what we expected, to play this level of baseball. It's really tough that it’s this late.”
Josh Hader pitched the ninth for his 31st save, retiring Brendan Rodgers with a runner on third. Luis Garcia (2-3) got the win and Rockies starter Chase Anderson (0-6) took the loss.
“We had a walk-off last night and a one-run win today. Next thing you know, we'll win an extra-inning game,” Melvin said.
The Padres are winless in 11 extra-inning games.
A day after breaking up San Diego's combined no-hitter leading off the ninth, Rodgers homered to left-center with one out in the first off Seth Lugo. Rodgers, last year's NL Gold Glove winner at second base, didn't make his season debut until July 31 after hurting his left shoulder early in spring training and needing surgery.
The Rockies made it 2-0 when San Diegan Sean Bouchard singled in rookie Nolan Jones with two outs. Jones singled and took third on Ryan McMahon's single.
Bogaerts hit a leadoff single off Anderson and scored on Soto's groundout. Anderson threw seven no-hit innings in his previous start, against San Francisco. Bogaerts who won two World Series titles with Boston and signed a $280 million, 11-year contract with the Padres in December, had three hits.
Padres: LHP Tim Hill had surgery on his left ring finger to repair ligaments and clean up scar tissue. He will begin a throwing program in six to eight weeks and is expected to be ready for spring training. ... 2B Ha-Seong Kim missed his fourth straight game with a stomach ailment.
Rockies: RHP Noah Davis (0-2, 9.58 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday in the opener of a three-game series at the Chicago Cubs, who are expected to counter with RHP Jameson Taillon (7-10, 5.27).
Padres: RHP Matt Waldron (1-3, 5.16) is scheduled to start Friday night in the opener of the final home series, against RHP Dakota Hudson (6-2, 5.12) and the St. Louis Cardinals.
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