DENVER (AP) — Jamie Moyer turned in a vintage performance in becoming the oldest pitcher to ever win a major league game.
The 49-year-old Moyer threw seven masterful innings and Dexter Fowler hit a two-run homer, helping the Colorado Rockies hold on for a 5-3 win over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.
Moyer (1-2) was sharp all evening as he picked up his 268th career win, tying him with Hall of Famer Jim Palmer for 34th on the career list.
Relying on a consistent cutter and mixing in a 78-mph fastball, the cunning lefty gave up just six hits and two runs — both unearned — as he kept the Padres hitters at bay and off balance.
That’s been a winning recipe for Moyer over a career that’s stretched nearly a quarter century and included 689 games.
Anthony Bass, a pitcher half Moyer’s age, went five innings and gave up three runs. Bass (0-2) also had a career-high seven strikeouts.
Moyer earned that elusive win for the ages in his third start of the season. His is 49 years, 150 days old.
That’s important to note since before Moyer’s gem the oldest pitcher to win a game in the majors was Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers on Sept. 13, 1932, when he was 49 years, 70 days old.
Rex Brothers pitched the eighth and Rafael Betancourt survived a rocky ninth — giving up a solo homer to Nick Hundley and putting two more runners on — before striking out Yonder Alonso to earn his third save in as many chances.
About the only blemish to the night were two more errors by smooth-fielding shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, giving him six already this season. The Gold Glove winner had six all of last year.
His fielding error in the seventh proved quite costly and nearly spoiled Moyer’s place in the record books. With two on and one out, Tulowitzki had a routine double play ball go right through his legs, leading to a run. Jason Bartlett brought in another with a sacrifice fly to right to cut the lead to 3-2.
Moyer ended the threat by getting pinch hitter Jeremy Hermida to ground out to second on a 76-mph cutter.
The Rockies added two insurance runs in the eighth as Michael Cuddyer doubled in a run off former Rockies closer Huston Street and Wilin Rosario added a sacrifice fly.
Away from the mound, Moyer hardly looks like a kid anymore. He has gray streaks in his hair and frequently dons reading glasses that sit perched on the tip of his nose. This betrays his age too: He’s on the verge of receiving his AARP card.
But once he steps on the mound that youthful exuberance returns.
He’s transformed into a kid again, sprinting out to the mound after each inning. He looked more like a spry rookie than a veteran nearing retirement.
Moyer enticed the Padres to hit into three double plays, despite warnings before the game by Mark Kotsay — the one player who’s consistently hit Moyer — to remain patient. Then again, it’s difficult to lay off a pitch that looks so juicy.
The aged wonder used his wealth of experience to his advantage against the young Padres, six of whom weren’t even born when Moyer made his major league debut in 1986. That included Bass, who has fond memories of Coors Field after winning his debut in the hitter friendly stadium last June.
Fowler gave the Rockies a 2-0 lead in the third when he laced an 83-mph changeup from Bass into the bleachers in right field.
Rosario added an RBI double in the fourth. Rosario was in the lineup after starter Ramon Hernandez experienced a little soreness in his left hand after a swing he took the night before.
Kotsay’s first plate appearance of the season was a single in the opening inning. Kotsay was activated off the disabled list on Monday after missing the first 10 games with a strained right calf muscle.
That his first hit should be against Moyer hardly comes as a surprise since the 36-year-old Kotsay has a .583 lifetime average against Moyer. They even exchanged friendly grins after each of Kotsay’s two singles.
The two veterans haven’t faced each other since June 13, 2006, when Kotsay was with the Oakland A’s and Moyer a member of Seattle Mariners.
Before the game, Kotsay was giving pointers to his impressionable teammates on how to hit Moyer’s methodical pitches.
“Be patiently aggressive,” Andy Parrino recounted. “Make him come to us a little bit more. Oh, and make him stay in the strike zone. Because there’s a reason he’s been pitching for so long.”
Moyer doesn’t have a blazing fastball, but he does have this — pinpoint precision.
Padres manager Bud Black certainly appreciates the cleverness of Moyer, marveling from the dugout at the vintage pitcher who went to spring training without a guaranteed roster spot and performed his way onto the team. He missed all of 2011 as he recovered from a surgically repaired ligament in his elbow.
“It’s a great story,” Black said.
NOTES: Padres RHP Tim Stauffer (strained elbow) threw Tuesday in San Diego. He’s scheduled for a bullpen session this weekend. … The Rockies recalled RHP Edgmer Escalona from Triple-A Colorado Springs and optioned RHP Tyler Chatwood to the Sky Sox. … OF Carlos Gonzalez (strep throat) returned the lineup, going 0 for 2 with two walks.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)