SAN DIEGO — The longer he pitched, the stronger San Diego Padres left-hander Christian Friedrich got.
And it just happened to be against his original team, the Colorado Rockies.
Friedrich matched his career-high with 10 strikeouts in seven brilliant innings to win for the first time since June 23, leading the Padres to a 6-3 victory against the Rockies on Saturday night.
Friedrich (5-10), the Rockies’ first-round draft pick in 2008, allowed two hits and walked one. He retired his final 13 batters and 19 of 20.
“Obviously, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good to pitch well against them,” Friedrich said.
The Rockies got a runner into scoring position against Friedrich just once, when Carlos Gonzalez doubled with two outs in the first and advanced on a wild pitch. Nolan Arenado walked before Friedrich got Tom Murphy to fly out to left. The Rockies’ only other baserunner against Friedrich was DJ LeMahieu, who lined a comebacker off Friedrich’s left leg for a single in the third..
“It’s DJ, so it was really pretty funny to see him at first trying to smile at me. It was fine. It caught a lot of meat,” Friedrich said.
Friedrich has dominated in two starts against the Rockies this year. On June 12, he got a no-decision after holding them to one run and two hits in six innings, with nine strikeouts.
“He’s been tough on us a couple of times,” manager Walt Weiss said. “He had a good angle on his fastball. That’s one of his keys. Good breaking ball, the curveball and the slider. We couldn’t figure him out.”
Friedrich “really settled in,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “First inning he labored, fought just to keep them off the board…. He pretty much sailed through the next six.”
Green said he had some debate about sending Friedrich back out for the eighth. “But it was getting kind of where we are with paying attention to his innings and trying to put him in a position to be successful in the future. We thought it was best to cut him at seven.”
Friedrich had lost each of his last decisions during his previous 11 starts. His last victory was at Cincinnati on June 23.
Brandon Maurer pitched the ninth for his ninth save.
The Padres piled on against Jon Gray (9-8), taking a 6-0 lead after two innings and chasing him after four.
Yangervis Solarte hit an RBI single in the first and a two-run double during the five-run second. His second-inning double followed a two-run double by Wil Myers that went over left fielder David Dahl’s head and bounced into the stands.
Gray allowed six runs on eight hits. He struck out three and walked three.
Gray “was kind of searching for his slider tonight,” Weiss aid. “He was doing all right otherwise. It was a battle for him. He never really got locked in. He didn’t have his ‘A’ slider. Just an off night. Nothing physically or anything like that.”
The Rockies scored three unearned runs in the eighth after shortstop Luis Sardinas booted Mark Reynolds’ grounder. Gonzalez had a two-run single.
Padres: Friedrich was hit near his left knee by a comebacker by LeMahieu in the third inning. After being checked by a trainer and manager Andy Green, he stayed in the game.
Rockies: Chad Bettis (12-7, 4.88) is scheduled to start the finale of the four-game series. He’s coming off his first shutout. He lost his last time out at Petco Park, on June 4.
Padres: Edwin Jackson (4-5, 5.55) is scheduled to make his 10th start for the Padres. He struck out 11, the most by a Padres pitcher this season, in a 2-1 victory against Boston on Monday.