LeMahieu's lunging tag in 9th helps Rockies beat Padres 5-3
DENVER (AP) The talk was all about the tag: How second baseman DJ LeMahieu even caught the throw in the first place, let alone how he managed to get his glove on the base stealer to end the game.
''That was a pretty special play right there,'' starter Tyler Chatwood said.
''A really, really good play,'' closer Carlos Estevez added.
More than anything, LeMahieu's lunging tag helped the Colorado Rockies avoid another ninth-inning meltdown in a 5-3 win over the San Diego Padres on Saturday.
A day after blowing a game in the final inning, the Rockies bullpen secured one. It was far from easy, but in the process they found their closer for the time being in flamethrower Estevez, who picked up his first career save.
''That inning felt too much like yesterday,'' LeMahieu said. ''Glad we could end it right there.''
This is how the wild ninth unfolded: Jason Motte surrendered a double to Matt Kemp and hit pinch hitter Brett Wallace to start the inning. Estevez was summoned from the bullpen as the song ''Wild Thing'' blared throughout the stadium.
Estevez enticed a fly out and a pop up. Travis Jankowski entered as a pinch runner and took off for second. The throw by Dustin Garneau was slightly off line and LeMahieu dove to stop it. As he caught it, LeMahieu's glove remained in the way of Jankowski for the final out.
''Lucky, lucky tag,'' said LeMahieu, who had another amazing tag earlier in the game.
For a moment, the stunned Padres thought about challenging.
''But you have the worst angle from the dugout of anybody in the stadium and absolutely no clue if he is out of safe,'' Padres manager Andy Green explained. ''We got a good report that he was out.''
Relying on an efficient sinker, Chatwood (8-4) found his groove at Coors Field after being so dominant in road starts. He threw 6 2-3 strong innings and allowed three runs. He's been stellar away from Denver with a major league-best 0.65 road ERA.
Chatwood kept the ball low all afternoon. He got 16 outs on ground balls, including two double plays, and no fly outs to keep his outfielder's bored.
''I guess you could call it effectively wild,'' Chatwood said.
Erik Johnson went 4 2-3 innings and gave up five runs in his Padres debut. Johnson (0-1 in the NL, after going 0-2 in the AL) was acquired last weekend in a deal that sent righty James Shields to the Chicago White Sox.
''Overall, he pitched very solid,'' Green said.
The night before, San Diego rallied for a 7-5 win as Wil Myers hit a three-run homer in the ninth off closer Jake McGee.
Estevez quelled any thoughts of more late-game heroics. The closer's role now belongs to Estevez with McGee going on the 15-day disabled list Saturday because of a sprained MCL in his left knee.
About entering in such a dicey situation, Estevez said he was ''a little bit nervous, but after first pitch, it was, `That's it, let's go. Let's get these three outs.'''
Charlie Blackmon hit a tiebreaking solo homer off the foul pole in the fifth. Carlos Gonzalez had a three-run homer in the first and an RBI single in the fifth, to power the Rockies.
Padres: RHP Andrew Cashner was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained neck. He left the game Friday with upper back and neck tightness after throwing six pitches.
Rockies: RHP Adam Ottavino (Tommy John surgery) had a successful outing with Class-A Modesto on Friday. ''It was a good first step,'' manager Walt Weiss said.
Padres third baseman Yangervis Solarte left in the fourth with a bruised left thumb.
''He's going to be fine,'' Green said. ''On his first at-bat, he didn't appear to swing the bat and it seemed a good time to give him the rest of the game.''
The New York Yankees selected right-hander Bo Weiss - the son of the Rockies' skipper - in the 29th round. The recent high school graduate is committed to North Carolina, where his father went to school.
Told his son would meet him at Elway's restaurant to celebrate, Weiss chuckled: ''Guess he's buying.''
Padres: LHP Christian Friedrich (3-1) makes his first start against his former team Sunday.
Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson will make his major league debut Sunday. RHP Eddie Butler (2-3) was originally scheduled to start.