DENVER (AP) - For the good of the team, Jeremy Guthrie had to gut it out.
The Colorado Rockies pitcher simply couldn't afford to call in sick. Not with the pitching staff already so taxed.
So, sore throat and all, Guthrie took the mound and pitched seven up-and-down innings in a 7-1 loss to the San Diego Padres on Monday night.
That performance earned the admiration of manager Jim Tracy, even if he gave up six runs and nine hits.
``He gave us an opportunity to re-solidify our bullpen,' Tracy said. ``We were able to stay off a number of guys and get ourselves back in place.'
With their relievers stretched so thin, the Rockies needed Guthrie (1-1) to go deep into the game - no matter what. The bullpen had already thrown 36 innings heading into this game, a rather high figure. They needed a break.
Guthrie definitely took his lumps for the benefit of the team, throwing 103 pitches.
``That was one of the focuses - getting deep and trying to compete and giving the team a chance to win,' Guthrie explained. ``I wasn't able to do that, but I was able to get deep. That's important at this point.'
The Padres restored their pop with the help of a little pregame pep talk.
Meeting as an offensive unit, the Padres hatched a simple plan of attack: If they're going to mess up at the plate, at least mess up being aggressive.
The new approach worked wonders as the Padres pounded out a season-high 14 hits to snap a four-game skid. Chase Headley tied a team record with three doubles, and Nick Hundley drove in three runs.
Up and down the lineup, the Padres were knocking the ball all over the yard, smacking seven doubles.
All this from the worst-hitting team in the NL - at least for now.
``We just talked a little bit about relaxing and understanding that you play a 162-game season,' Headley said. ``While it looks really, really ugly right at the moment, there's a long ways to go.
``But it was nice to have some breathing room.'
Cory Luebke (1-1) provided that, throwing seven efficient innings as he breezed through the Rockies lineup on a brisk night. He allowed just six hits and one run.
``Offense did a good job setting the tone early,' Luebke said. ``They just went out and took a little pressure off.'
Gold Glove shortstop Troy Tulowitzki remains in a fielding funk for the Rockies as he committed his fourth error of the season on a hard grounder by Luebke, which led to a run. He had only six miscues all of last season.
Not that Tracy seemed all that concerned about his typically reliable infielder.
``It's just one of those things in the early part of the season that you have to let the ebb and flow take place and let him get into a groove,' Tracy said. ``Tulo's one of the guys who's searching to find some things and you have to allow that situation to happen. That's all.'
Colorado scored in the second when Tyler Colvin singled in Michael Cuddyer. That would be all the damage Luebke allowed.
The lefty was even permitted to work his way out of a jam in his last inning. With two on and two out, Luebke got pinch-hitter Jason Giambi to ground out to end the threat.
``Those types of at bats are stepping stones for young pitchers,' manager Bud Black said. ``It was a great hitter against a good young pitcher. He won the battle.'
Headley had a solid game against the team he grew up idolizing. He's from nearby Fountain, Colo., and always seems to hit well at Coors Field.
Then again, he hits well at all stops on the road - hitting .304 away from home.
``To be honest with you, I've been feeling pretty good for the last three or four days,' Headley said. ``I finally got a few pitches to hit today and was able to square them up.'
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez missed a third straight game with strep throat. He said his strength is steadily returning, maybe even enough to play on Tuesday night.
``I don't feel 100 percent yet, but getting better each day,' he said.
NOTES: Colorado LHP Jorge De La Rosa tossed 60 pitches a four-inning simulated game on Monday. He's still mending from elbow surgery that sidelined him last season. ... The Rockies broke ground over the weekend on a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. The academy will cost around $6 million. ... 2B Marco Scutaro had his first multi-hit game of the season, going 2 for 3 with a walk.
The Associated Press News Service
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