ROCK­IES 18, PADRES 4 Star third base­man goes 5-for-6 with seven runs bat­ted in

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­trick Saun­ders

There is a small park near Nolan Are­nado‘s boy­hood home in Lake For­est, Calif., where Are­nado, along with his broth­ers and cousins, gath­ered to play Wif­fle Ball.

They would send balls fly­ing over trees and fences, imag­in­ing ti­tanic homers in Game 7 of the World Se­ries. One-up­man­ship was the rule of law.

Wednes­day at Coors Field, Are­nado had a Wif­fle Ball kind of game in a Rock­ies hit­fest. They steam­rolled San Diego 18-4 to win their fourth con­sec­u­tive game and fin­ish off a three-game sweep of the Padres.

Are­nado, the Rock­ies’ all-star third base­man and RBI ma­chine, set ca­reer highs with three homers, five hits and 14 to­tal bases. He tied a ca­reer high with seven RBIs, giv­ing him a ma­jor league-high 80 runs driven in.

Are­nado, how­ever, laughed off the idea that Wednes­day’s per­for­mance was as easy as it looked.

“Well, it’s 94 or 95 (mph) com­ing at you,” he said. “When 95 goes past your face, it’s like, ‘Wow, this is real.’ I just tried to hit the ball hard.”

Nev­er­the­less, he wowed his team­mates. “It’s un­be­liev­able, but it didn’t seem too out of the or­di­nary for some­thing he can do,” said short­stop Trevor Story, who had a sea­son-high three hits, in­clud­ing his first home run since July 1. “We were all just kind of like, ‘Yep. That’s Nolan.’ But ob­vi­ously it’s spe­cial.”

Right fielder Char­lie Black­mon, who bat­ted 3-for-3 and hit his 23rd homer of the sea­son be­fore leav­ing the game with leg cramps dur­ing an at-bat in the sixth in­ning, was im­pressed by Are­nado’s per­for­mance.

“He just mur­dered those balls,” Black­mon said. “I don’t want to say it’s be­cause he had a day off or any­thing, but he just looked like a dif­fer­ent player to­day.”

Are­nado, out of the start­ing lineup Tues­day for just the fourth time this sea­son, is hit­ting .600 (12-for-20) with four homers and 13 RBIs the game af­ter he be­gins the game on the bench.

“I was more mo­ti­vated to come play to­day,” he said. “I re­ally want to play to­day, and I was stretch­ing ear­lier than I usu­ally do.

“But I re­ally don’t like days off. I had an 0-for-5 day (Mon­day) and then I had a day off, and I wasn’t very happy about that.”

Quipped man­ager Bud Black: “We’ll have to look at off days a lit­tle bit closer, but we don’t want to give him ev­ery other day off.”

For the record: Are­nado had an RBI sin­gle in the first; an RBI sin­gle in the sec­ond; a lead­off, solo homer in the fourth; a solo shot in the fifth; and a three-run blast in the sixth. The first homer came off Padres starter Clay­ton Richard, who al­lowed a ca­reer­high 10 earned runs on a ca­reer­high 14 hits in a mere 3M in­nings. Are­nado blasted his other two homers off re­liever Kevin Quack­en­bush.

Are­nado came to the plate in the eighth in­ning look­ing to be the 18th player in ma­jor-league his­tory to hit four home runs in one game. He flied out to left on a 3-2 pitch from Kirby Yates but got a stand­ing ova­tion when he re­turned to the dugout.

“Ob­vi­ously, I was try­ing to hit a homer, which is prob­a­bly why I didn’t,” he said. “That last at-bat, I couldn’t help but think about it. I thought, ‘I want to get an­other one.’ But (Yates) beat me, and he made a good pitch.”

On a hot July day with Coors play­ing like a pin­ball ma­chine, Rock­ies starter Jon Gray played wizard for five of his six in­nings. He blanked the Padres un­til the sixth in­ning, when they smacked four hits off him, the big blow a three-run homer by Cory Span­gen­berg.

Gray broke out an ex­cel­lent curve­ball, a pitch he used to get out of trou­ble in the fourth in­ning, when he struck out Jabari Blash with two men on base and no outs.

“The (curve­ball) was some­thing we planned on throw­ing com­ing in,” Gray said. “These guys are good fast­ball hit­ters, so the curve was some­thing we needed to show for strikes.”

Gray was thank­ful he didn’t have to face the Rock­ies’ jug­ger­naut of­fense.

“It’s awe­some and cool to watch,” Gray said. “When they all start hit­ting like that, it’s un­stop­pable.”

All told, the Rock­ies cranked out a sea­son-high 21 hits, in­clud­ing a 4-for-5 day by the siz­zling Ger­ardo Parra, who boosted his av­er­age to .364. Since his re­turn from the dis­abled list, Parra is hit­ting .556 (20-for-36) over nine games.

Pho­tos by Matthew Stock­man, Getty Im­ages

Rock­ies third base­man Nolan Are­nado hits a home run dur­ing the fourth in­ning Wednes­day at Coors Field. He belted an­other in the fifth in­ning and one more in the sixth against the San Diego Padres.

Rock­ies cen­ter fielder Char­lie Black­mon, right, and right fielder Ger­ardo Parra also had im­pres­sive games, go­ing a com­bined 7-for-8 at the plate.

Matthew Stock­man, Getty Im­ages

Nolan Are­nado gives thanks af­ter hit­ting a home run dur­ing the fourth in­ning Wednes­day at Coors Field, but he was just get­ting started. He hit a sec­ond home run in the fifth, and an­other, his 21st of the sea­son, in the sixth.

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