SAN DIEGO -- When Ubaldo Jimenez started snapping off fastballs that reached 101 mph on the radar gun, Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy knew it was going to be a good night.
Jimenez struck out a career-high 13, became the first six-game winner in the majors this season and hit an RBI single to lead the Colorado Rockies to a 5-2 win over the NL West-leading San Diego Padres on Monday night.
A Quality Starter
Ubaldo Jimenez joined a distinguished class of pitchers who have won their first six starts while allowing fewer than three runs an outing.
Pitchers since 2000
"The fastball tonight ranks up there with any of the other starts he's had up to this point," Tracy said of Jimenez, who was making his third start since throwing the franchise's first no-hitter on April 17 at Atlanta."That fastball was explosive, and it was being poured downhill, especially in the early part of the game," Tracy said. "And he did a very good job of sending the message within the first couple hitters of the game that he was going to establish it and he was going to throw it over the plate."The hard-throwing Jimenez (6-0) held the Padres to one run and four hits in seven innings, with two walks.He retired the last nine batters he faced, striking out five of the final six. His ERA rose from a major league-leading 0.79 to 0.87, dropping him into a tie with Livan Hernandez of the Washington Nationals.Each Padres batter who got a hit off Jimenez struck out the next time up."He's become such a big-game pitcher, and he always knows where he's at," Tracy said. "He's grown so much. He's grown right before our eyes. He's becoming quite a force. This guy is a dynamic guy, boy. I couldn't be prouder for a young man."His previous strikeout high was 11 at San Diego on May 10, 2008. It was his seventh career 10-strikeout game and his third against the Padres. His six-game winning streak, dating to Oct. 1, matches the club record set by Jorge De La Rosa last year."It's always fun to have strikeouts, but I didn't even think about it," he said. "Every time that I come here to San Diego, it's always good. Everything moves different. The breaking ball is really nasty, and my fastball moves a lot. So I love it here."Jimenez, Joe Beimel and Rafael Betancourt combined for a six-hitter.The Padres were coming off three shutouts in four games against the Milwaukee Brewers."He's throwing all his pitches for strikes," San Diego's Chase Headley said of Jimenez. "He's pounding the strike zone and he's getting ahead in the count. He's always had good stuff. But now he's pitching rather than just throwing."Jimenez got all the backing he needed in the second when Carlos Gonzalez had a leadoff walk, Miguel Olivo a single and both scored on Clint Barmes' one-out double into the left-field corner.San Diego got its first run in the fourth when Yorvit Torrealba, who left the Rockies as a free agent in the offseason, doubled with two outs to bring in Will Venable. Venable singled with one out and stole second.That snapped Jimenez's scoreless innings streak at 25 1-3.Tony Gwynn Jr. walked leading off the Padres' fifth and, after several pickoff attempts by Jimenez, stole second with two outs and took third when the throw from Olivo sailed into center field for an error. Barmes, the second baseman, ended the threat with a nice running catch of a line drive Headley."He did a good job, but I thought we did a good job against him," Headley said. "He got off the hook. We hit some balls hard. Breaks didn't go our way."San Diego's Kevin Correia (4-2) had his four-game winning streak snapped. He retired 11 in a row going into the seventh, when he walked Olivo and allowed Ian Stewart's double into the right-field corner. He was pulled for Edward Mujica, who struck out Barmes before allowing Jimenez's single to right-center to bring in Olivo. Gonzalez hit a two-run single off Joe Thatcher in the eighth.Correia allowed three runs and four hits in six-plus innings, struck out four and walked two.Pinch-hitter Matt Stairs had an RBI single in the Padres' ninth.
Tracy said RHP Taylor Buchholtz will begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Modesto on Wednesday. He hasn't thrown a pitch since 2008 due to right elbow surgery. He is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on June 3. ... LHP Jeff Francis will make rehab starts with Double-A Tulsa on May 6 and 11. He'll be reevaluated after each start. ... RHP Huston Street will throw live batting practice in extended spring training on Tuesday, the first time he's thrown live BP this season. ... After a shaky rehab start on Sunday, Padres RHP Chris Young will undergo an MRI in the next few days on his throwing shoulder, manager Bud Black said.