DENVER (AP) -Troy Tulowitzki is on such a September surge, he'll surely hate to see the calendar flip - unless the Colorado Rockies are still playing deep into October.
And if he stays this hot, they just might.
Tulowitzki had his third multihomer game in a little more than a week and tied a career high with seven RBIs to help the Rockies beat the NL West-leading Padres 9-6 Wednesday and avoid a series sweep.
The smooth-fielding shortstop's 11 homers in September are just one shy of tying the franchise mark for any month - and he still has half a month left to go.
``The game's not that easy. I'm just hot right now,' Tulowitzki said. ``I'm continually trying to remind myself to enjoy this while it last. It's not going to last forever.'
The Padres saw their division lead shrink to a half-game over second-place San Francisco Giants, who beat the Dodgers 2-1.
Powered by Tulowitzki and Jorge De La Rosa, who gave Colorado's beleaguered bullpen a break by pitching into the eighth, the Rockies climbed within 2 1/2 games of San Diego. They also closed within 2 1/2 games of Atlanta in the wild-card race.
As locked in as Tulowitzki has been lately, Rockies manager Jim Tracy figured he would lead the team out of its two-game mini-funk.
``This is as competitive of player as I've ever seen,' Tracy said. ``You could tell from that first at-bat that he wasn't going to let us lose.'
Adrian Gonzalez nearly matched Tulowitzki's offensive production. The first baseman hit two homers to run his season total to 29, including a three-run shot in the eighth that wiped out half of a 9-3 deficit. He finished with five RBIs.
De La Rosa (8-4) yielded five runs and six hits in 7 1-3 innings.
Colorado starters have been awful of late, overtaxing the bullpen. That cost them dearly Tuesday night when Edgmer Escalona's failure to cover first base on a grounder to Todd Helton in the ninth inning led to the decisive run in a 7-6 loss.
``He stepped up and gave us exactly what we needed,' Tracy said of De La Rosa.
Colorado won the final game of a three-game series - not exactly what the team had in mind when the slumping Padres arrived at Coors Field on Monday. The Rockies were riding a 10-game winning streak and had designs on overtaking the Padres.
``It goes without saying - we needed that game. We simply need that game,' Tracy said.
NL MVP candidate Carlos Gonzalez finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs, increasing his NL leads in batting average (.341) and RBIs (106).
Tulowitzki is making a late MVP push, as well, despite missing 33 games with a broken wrist. He went 3 for 5 to raise his average to .325, second to Carlos Gonzalez.
``Between him and Carlos Gonzalez it's hard to find a couple of guys that are hitting the ball as well as they are,' said Padres pitcher Clayton Richard (12-8), who allowed a season-high eight runs and 11 hits in three innings.
In the eighth inning, the Padres had to pick their poison and elected to walk Carlos Gonzalez with a runner on second and face Tulowitzki. The strategy worked when Ernesto Frieri retired Tulowitzki on a hard lineout to left.
Pitch to a player with seven RBIs, though?
``Pretty crazy,' Carlos Gonzalez said, grinning. ``I'm not sure about that one.'
Tulowitzki understood the rationale - a right-hander coming in to face a righty. It wasn't an insult.
``They're playing the odds,' Tulowitzki said. ``At the same time, I put a good swing on that. That will stay in their minds.'
Richard gave up a three-run homer to Tulowitzki in the third. An inning later, Richard was pulled with the slugger stepping into the batter's box, and Edward Mujica gave up Tulowitzki's second three-run drive.
``He was on everything. He's been swinging the bat great for them, and today, boy was he locked in,' Padres manager Bud Black said. ``He was on fastballs, curveballs, sliders, changeups. He had some terrific swings.'
NOTES: Tracy said before the game that, depending on circumstances, he wouldn't be opposed to using 18-game winner Ubaldo Jimenez on short rest down the stretch. ... The Rockies are 20-6 at home since July 29. ... Rockies INF Clint Barmes replaced Eric Young Jr. at second in the sixth inning after the young player made his third error in two games. ... Padres SS Miguel Tejada went 7 for 12 with five RBIs in the series. He also scored five runs. ... Padres C Yorvit Torrealba hit a solo homer against his former team.
The Associated Press News Service
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