Rookie Jimenez shuts down Padres, Stewart drives in 2 as Rockies win 3-0
SAN DIEGO -- It was the youngest of the young Colorado Rockies who come through for one of baseball's surprising teams.
Jimenez, 23, and Stewart, 22, were the stars for the upstart Rockies, who were not expected to contend in the NL West this season with their roster full of young players. But the win kept Colorado five games off the pace in the division and just two games behind the Padres in the wild-card race.
"I'm one of the people here who hasn't done a lot of worrying," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're here to play."
Jimenez (2-2) held San Diego to just one hit and used his overpowering fastball and solid slider to strike out a career-high nine batters. Jimenez's fastball was clocked at 100 mph on one pitch, and often reached in the high 90s. He walked two batters, hit one and threw a wild pitch, but allowed just two runners to reach second base.
"I was getting ahead of the hitters and that was a big difference," Jimenez said.
Stewart, who pinch hit for Jimenez in the seventh, gave the Rockies a huge lift with a two-run single off Cla Meredith (4-6) to break the scoreless tie. Stewart was playing in only his third game since making his major-league debut on Saturday.
"I was probably overaggressive early in the count," Stewart said. "I was just able to get the big part of the bat on the ball and get it up the middle."
But Stewart downplayed the importance of two of the club's youngest players playing such major roles in the victory.
"I don't think it was any bigger for us than it was for the team," Stewart said. "This was a big win for all of us."
Hurdle was quick to say that the Rockies' lack of experience will not be a factor.
"One of the things that we talk about with the younger players that come up is respect everything and be in awe of nothing," Hurdle said.
The loss dropped the Padres three games behind NL West-leading Arizona, a 9-6 winner at Florida.
Jimenez was making his sixth start of the season and was coming off his worst start when he lasted just two innings against the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 9. He gave up nine hits and nine runs -- five earned.
"He pitched a big-time ballgame for us," Hurdle said. "He made pitches, he was in a better rhythm, he was ahead in the count. It was a very polished performance for a young pitcher."
Padres starter Chris Young battled Jimenez through six innings, allowing three hits with six strikeouts and two walks. He started the game by striking out four straight and five of the first seven batters, lowering his major league-leading ERA to 1.93, just ahead of teammate Jake Peavy at 2.23.
Young was making his second start since coming off the disabled list for a strained left oblique he sustained in a start July 24 at Colorado.
"I'm past the pain," Young said. "I think it's obvious I can go out and compete and pitch well."
Kaz Matsui added an RBIs single in the ninth for the Rockies.
Atkins had two hits for Colorado and also reached on two walks.
Hawkins and Julio each pitched one inning before Corpas pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 12 chances.
Colorado's only scoring threat against Young came in the fifth after Spilborghs led off with a single. He stole second and went to third on a ground out, and Jimenez hit a line drive off Young's glove that deflected in the air to second baseman Giles for the second out. Matsui flew out to end the inning.
Jimenez hit 100 mph on the Petco Park radar gun with a fastball to C Josh Bard in the third inning. ... Young has a 4-1 home record with an ERA of 0.66 (five earned runs in 68 innings) in 10 home starts. ... Stewart is 2-for-2 as a pinch hitter.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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