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Rockies Losing Hold On Wild Card With 4th Straight Loss

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Colorado Rockies keep stumbling as they try to protect their tenuous hold on the NL’s second wild card.

They’ve lost four straight games and six of eight, the latest coming Thursday night when veteran left-hander Clayton Richard and rookie slugger Christian Villanueva led the San Diego Padres to a 3-0 win.

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Clayton Richard #3 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies at PETCO Park on September 21, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Richard (8-14) struck out eight in 7 1/3 innings a day after agreeing to a two-year contract extension through 2019, and Villanueva homered for the second straight game and drove in two runs.

Manager Bud Black said the “spirit’s good” for a Rockies team that kept its one-game lead over Milwaukee thanks to the Brewers’ 5-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

gettyimages 851122624 Rockies Losing Hold On Wild Card With 4th Straight Loss

Bud Black #10 of the Colorado Rockies comes onto the field before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on September 21, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

“The guys are embracing where we are, in a pennant race for the first time in a couple years for this organization,” Black said. “You look at the landscape of baseball. From April until now, it’s an ebb and flow. There’s a rhythm to this season that goes up and down. The last few games the bats haven’t woken, but you look at ten days ago, or two weeks ago where our bats were, and look at it that way. Our time is coming to swing the bats.”

Other than a 16-0 blowout win against the Padres in Denver on Saturday, the Rockies have struggled.

Colorado lefty Tyler Anderson (5-6) was pulled after 5 2/3 innings, having allowed three runs and six hits, with six strikeouts and a walk.

Black, who managed the Padres from 2007 until June 2015, came with the hook after Anderson allowed an RBI single by Villanueva for a 3-0 lead with two outs in the sixth. Two batters earlier, Hunter Renfroe hit a sacrifice fly.

Five days earlier, Anderson got the win in the 16-run romp.

Richard allowed seven hits and walked one. He was pulled after pinch-hitter Pat Valaika singled and Charlie Blackmon reached on shortstop Yangervis Solarte’s single with one out in the eighth. Kirby Yates came on and struck out DJ LeMahieu in a 12-pitch at-bat and got Nolan Arenado to force Blackmon.

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DJ LeMahieu #9 of the Colorado Rockies dodges a pitch during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on September 21, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

“It’s a good win for the team against a good team that’s battling to be in the playoffs,” Richard said. “These games mean a lot to them and we’re going to play every game as if it means a lot to us.”

The Padres are in a deep rebuilding mode and are 28 games behind the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.

Villanueva, who made his big league debut on Monday night, homered to left-center leading off the fifth. He got his first hit, a single, and first homer in a loss to Arizona on Wednesday night.

gettyimages 851126794 Rockies Losing Hold On Wild Card With 4th Straight Loss

Carlos Asuaje #20 of the San Diego Padres throws over Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies as he turns a double play during the fourth inning of a baseball game at PETCO Park on September 21, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Villanueva’s rise to the big leagues was delayed because he was stuck behind Kris Bryant in the Cubs’ organization and broke a leg last year.

“He’s been fun to watch,” manager Andy Green said. “The swing, just looking at it, it looks right, it plays. It’s got some buggy whip to it. There’s clearly power there.”

Homering again was “really special,” Villanueva said through a translator. “I’ve had my family here seeing me, so they’re watching games, which is amazing. Also, helping the team win. It’s really unforgettable. It’s amazing.”

TALK TO THE HAND

Brad Hand struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save and his second 100-strikeout season. He joined Trevor Hoffman (1996-97) as the only relievers in Padres history to have back-to-back 100-strikeout seasons.

“Anytime you show up in that category with Trevor Hoffman, it’s pretty special,” Green said.

UP NEXT

Rockies: RHP Jon Gray (8-4, 3.75 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday night. He pitched five scoreless innings against San Diego on Sunday before being removed after a 90-minute rain delay.

Padres: RHP Jordan Lyles (1-3, 7.35) is scheduled to face his former team. He was released by the Rockies on Aug. 1 and signed by the Padres on Aug. 8. This will be his fourth start with San Diego and second at home.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 

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