SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres have pretty much run out of superlatives for rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.
"He's good," manager Andy Green said after Tatis hit his second leadoff home run in as many games — and a team-record sixth this season — and had some nice defensive plays to help the Padres to a 9-3 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.
The Padres scored five unearned runs in the sixth inning.
Tatis broke the old record of five leadoff homers by Will Venable in 2011 when he drove a 1-0 pitch from Jon Gray (10-8) into the home run porch in the right field corner. It was the 22nd of the season for Tatis, who hit a leadoff homer in a 3-2 loss at Seattle on Wednesday.
"I know he's a pitcher who's going to get to me so I was ready," the 20-year-old Tatis said. "I just go out there and try to execute right away."
Tatis, whose father played in the big leagues, enjoys setting the tone.
"To see my team pumped right away is just an amazing feeling. I'm going to try to do it for a long time," he said.
"He's done a lot of different things," Green said. "He's had some really good first-pitch-of-the-game swings, he's worked some counts deeper, he's waited for his pitch. He's good."
In the seventh, Tatis ran to his left to snag a chopper by Ian Desmond, spun and threw him out to end the inning with two runners on. He put his glove over his face for a few seconds and was smiling when he pulled it away.
"When I caught the ball, I spin and what can I say," he said. "I was just trying to finish the play right away. I just get happy and try to help my pitcher on the mound and just try to do my work."
Manuel Margot homered in the eighth for the Padres, his ninth.
The Padres led 3-1 after two — Tatis added an RBI single in the second — before the Rockies tied it on Trevor Story's RBI double in the third and Charlie Blackmon's leadoff homer in the fifth, his 24th.
But the Padres jumped ahead 8-3 when the Rockies fell apart in the sixth. The Padres scored five unearned runs on two hits, two walks, two errors and a wild pitch. The inning was extended by Trevor Story's two-out throwing error on Luis Urias' grounder, which allowed Francisco Mejia to score. Another run scored on Gray's wild pitch. Gray made way for Jairo Diaz, whose throwing error on Tatis' dinker allowed another run before Wil Myers hit a two-run double.
Gray allowed seven runs — three earned — on six hits in 5 2/3 innings, with four strikeouts and two walks.
"Kind of everything was off," he said. "Nothing really felt right early on. I just thought it was going to be one of those days I was going to have to grind. We settled down and made some good pitches for three or four innings. Then again, that first inning has hurt me a couple times these last couple starts, so I've got to do something about that because it's just going to hurt our team."
Matt Strahm (5-8) pitched two innings for the win.
Padres starter Eric Lauer allowed three runs and 10 hits in four-plus innings, struck out two and walked none.
The Rockies had runners on first and second with no outs in the fourth before the Padres used some nice defense to get out of the jam. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe threw out Ryan McMahon trying to score from second on Tony Wolters' single to right and then second baseman Urias and Tatis turned a double play on Gray's grounder.
"We're best friends since minor leagues, so here we are now doing it right now," Tatis said of his relationship with Urias. "We get out there, and we don't care about nothing. I was screaming at him, 'Give it to me, give it to me, hurry up!' Just some kids playing out there."
FOR EL PASO
In the wake of the mass shooting in El Paso, the Padres wore black "EP" caps during batting practice and then autographed them to have their Triple-A affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas, auction them with the proceeds benefitting the El Paso Victims Relief Fund. The Padres are making a $30,000 donation to the fund via a joint contribution from the Padres Foundation, executive chairman Ron Fowler and general partner Pete Seidler.
As part of Grateful Dead Night, San Diego native, basketball Hall of Famer and noted Deadhead Bill Walton played bongo drums during a pregame concert by local tribute band Electric Waste Band in the Park at the Park just beyond center field. Walton also threw out the ceremonial first pitch, which he bounced wide of reliever Trey Wingenter. Walton asked for a re-do and threw a strike. He then joined in on the plate meeting with the umpires and managers, holding court for about three minutes.
Padres: LHP reliever Jose Castillo, who came off the 60-day IL earlier in the day, lasted only four batters in the seventh before leaving with an undisclosed injury. He was looking at his left hand ... Placed rookie LHP Adrian Morejon on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Wednesday, with a left shoulder impingement, and reinstated LHP Jose Castillo from the 60-day IL.
Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland (3-9, 7.24) is scheduled to start Friday night. He's 2-2 with a 4.03 ERA in eight appearances, including seven starts, against San Diego.
Padres: Rookie RHP Cal Quantrill (4-3, 3.57) faces the Rockies for the second. He earned the win in a 16-12 victory at Coors Field on June 14. He allowed four runs and six hits in five innings.