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The Journal Gazette

Friday, April 05, 2013 9:13 pm

Marquis, Padres fall 5-2 to Rockies

By PAT GRAHAMAP Sports Writer

Jason Marquis had his electrifying slider working in the thin air of Coors Field.

He got into trouble when he abandoned the pitch, trying to handcuff the Colorado Rockies' potent lineup with fastballs.

Didn't work out so well.

Marquis surrendered solo homers to Wilin Rosario and Dexter Fowler and the San Diego Padres lost 5-2 on Friday in the Rockies' home opener.

"I should have used my sinker a little bit more today because I had a good one," Marquis lamented. "I can't let the elements of the ballpark affect how I go about my business. The toughest thing for me here is the grip on the ball. That is the only thing that comes into play."

Marquis (0-1) was cruising along early before a costly fielding error by shortstop Everth Cabrera in the third paved the way for the Rockies' three-run third inning. Marquis lasted six innings and gave up five runs, only two earned.

"It has happened all my career. I don't know how many times," Marquis said of the miscue. "We are a team. We pick each other up. There are going to be times where they make great plays and get me out of a big inning. And I have to do the same for my teammates."

That two-out error by Cabrera certainly opened the door for the Rockies. Cabrera couldn't cleanly corral Josh Rutledge's slow roller, allowing Chris Nelson to trot in from third. After Carlos Gonzalez walked, Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run double to left-center.

"Tough play," Cabrera conceded.

Francis (1-0) was ahead of batters all afternoon as he scattered five hits over six innings. The soft-throwing lefty nearly became the first Rockies starter since last June to throw more than 100 pitches, but was pulled after striking out Nick Hundley on his 97th offering to finish the sixth.

The last time a Colorado starter reached the century mark in pitches was last June 12, a stretch of 106 games. It's the longest string in the majors since records started being kept by STATS in 1988.

This was Francis' first home-opening start for the Rockies and he was sharp in front of the raucous sellout crowd. With a fastball that barely creeps above 86 mph, Francis kept the Padres' off balance. He retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.

"I just felt like I could throw anything today," he said.

Especially when he ran into trouble, which was rare on the picture-perfect afternoon.

"I always have confidence in Jeff that he can wiggle his way through stuff when he starts to get some traffic or things start to happen out there," first-year skipper Walt Weiss said. "He does a nice job when he gets into trouble of figuring things out."

Francis had his good curveball Friday, maybe even the best one he's had in years - at least that was the opinion of Padres manager Bud Black.

"If he was to draw up a game plan, that was how he would do it to have success," Black said.

Tulowitzki hasn't missed a beat this season after missing a majority of 2012 with a groin injury that eventually required surgery to remove scar tissue. He's hitting .375 with six RBIs this spring.

Rosario is off to a great start, too, and his power is a luxury so deep in the order. It was his second homer in as many games.

"Rosario is not going to be a No. 7 hitter for real long in his career," Weiss said. "He's an impressive kid. He's got crazy power. We can sit there and watch him take batting practice and even the big boys marvel at his power."

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the team, the organization brought back members of the 1993 squad. Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla, the team's assistant to the general manager, drew the loudest cheers when they sauntered out behind the pitcher's mound.

Weiss received quite an ovation, too, as he made his managerial debut at home. This is a moment the former big league shortstop refused to think about in the days leading up to the game, only because he didn't want to show any emotion.

Hard to know if he did behind his dark shades. Weiss is making the huge leap from high school coach to major league manager as he tries to turn around a team that lost a franchise-most 98 games last season.

"The fans have always treated me well here, for whatever reason," Weiss said. "The fact I get to run out there as a manager in a Rockies uniform, that's really special to me."

NOTES: Padres 3B Chase Headley will have an X-ray on his left thumb Monday to see how it's healing. ... Rockies RHP Jon Garland will start Saturday for the first time since June 1, 2011. He had shoulder surgery that season and missed all of 2012. The Padres will counter with RHP Tyson Ross, who was acquired in a four-player deal with Oakland last November. ... The Padres have dropped three straight at Coors Field dating back to last season.