DENVER -- Coors Field proved to be the elixir the Padres needed to cure their four-game slide. The Padres came to Colorado in a funk, but consistently pecked away at the Rockies in the early innings for a 7-1 victory behind starting pitcher Cory Luebke en route to his first win Monday night.
The Friars had alchemy on their side, finding the ideal mixture of dominant pitching and explosive offense, matching their season low for runs allowed while setting a new high for hits accrued. Not content to slap singles into the grassy acres of the Colorado outfield, San Diego slugged seven doubles, led by Chase Headley's franchise-record-tying three.
"Every time I looked up, he was on second base," Nick Hundley said of Headley. "We got guys in our lineup who are going to give you quality at-bats and square a lot of balls up. We might not hit the most home runs in the league, but we'll hit a lot of doubles, hit a lot of gaps, and I think we can do a lot of damage."
The Padres got to Rockies starter Jeremy Guthrie in the first inning, showering the outfield with extra-base knocks. Will Venable sparked the rally with a one-out double to right and Headley plated him with a two-bagger to right-center before scoring himself on Hundley's double to right.
"It's nice to have one of those games where you're not feeling like every opportunity that comes up is going to be the game," Headley said. "That's how we've been playing since the start of the year. So every time you come up with a runner in scoring position, if you didn't get it done, you felt like the game was over. It's nice just to have some breathing room, and I think that allowed everybody to relax and take better swings."
Luebke was the beneficiary. After receiving two runs of support in his first two starts combined, the two runs in the first inning and five in the first four frames gave him the freedom to pitch his game in a way he hadn't been able to.
"Our hitters took the pressure off all night," Luebke said. "We got the early lead and they didn't stop. They kept the pressure on them. When you can go out and you know one swing's not going to beat you, it lets you work in the zone a little more and try to get some quick outs."
Working with a lead from the first inning on, Luebke was able to be aggressive in the strike zone. He had command of his fastball, his slider was effective pitching left-on-left, and he employed his changeup to get right-handers off balance.
"I got some outs with some changeups with some of those guys who hadn't seen me use my changeup much," Luebke said. "The first two outings, outing and a half, were a little frustrating, because you spend all offseason working on your offspeed and you can't find it for your first start and a half, you start to think, 'What were you doing?' But I felt better. That was the reason we got some of those quick outs, because we were able to mix them up a little bit more."
Colorado's lone run off Luebke came in the bottom of the second when Michael Cuddyer drilled a double down the left-field line and Tyler Colvin plated him with a single to right. Cuddyer was the only Rockie to reach second until Chris Nelson was stranded on third in the fifth frame after an infield single, a sacrifice, and a stolen base.
"He was hitting his spots, mixing that cutter-slider he has, the hard one," Colvin said. "He kept coming after us that way and kept us off-balance and getting outs."
The Rockies rallied with two outs in the eighth as Colvin and Nelson hit back-to-back singles off Luebke to bring pinch-hitter Jason Giambi to the plate. Giambi was 1-for-5 against Luebke in his career, bringing a home run and three strikeouts in a lefty-lefty matchup.
"Cory's a guy that we have a lot of faith in, not only now, but moving forward," manager Bud Black said of his decision to stick with Luebke. "Those type of at-bats are stepping stones for young pitchers. He was still throwing the ball well. Giambi's a great hitter. I know that he's faced Cory before, so there's really no secrets."
After a dangerous liner just foul to right, Giambi grounded to first to end the threat.
"A great hitter against a good young pitcher," Black said. "Cory won the battle."
Luebke finished the night with seven innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits and one walk while striking out four on 112 pitches. The game mirrored Luebke's last start against the Rockies, on Sept. 19, 2011, when he pitched seven innings and allowed two runs on one hit and three walks while striking out nine and throwing 119 pitches.
"I tell you what, even though it felt like we were in control of the game, you're never comfortable here," said Headley, a Colorado native. "That big inning can creep up so fast that you got to keep playing and you got to keep executing. That's a pretty good lineup on the other side, and the way that Cory threw the ball tonight -- it's not easy to hold those guys to one run."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.