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Must C Comeback: Padres erase a six-run deficit

DENVER -- You could only imagine the thoughts and emotions that raced through Brad Hawpe's head Saturday after he laid into a Huston Street change-up for a two-run home run that capped the Padres' 9-7 comeback victory over the Rockies at Coors Field.

After all, Hawpe spent seven seasons with the Rockies before being released in August, and this series represented his first trip back to Denver where he got a chance to see, visit and reminisce with several of his former teammates.

So when Hawpe turned on Street's 2-2 offering in a tie game, sending it over the wall in right field, his head was suddenly brimming with emotions -- so much so that he initially struggled to process them.

Well, other than the obvious one.

"After a while, all I was thinking was I had to run," Hawpe said, smiling.

Hawpe's home run provided a fitting ending to a peculiar game, as the Padres rallied from a six-run deficit after six innings by plating eight runs over the last three.

What was the second thought to cross Hawpe's mind?

"I have been thinking about that for several months now," he said. "It was fun. That was a special moment for me."

Hawpe finished with three hits and three runs scored, leading an 11-hit attack, with most of the damage coming the last three innings.

"Our guys have shown a knack for putting together good at-bats from the seventh inning on," said Padres manager Bud Black.

The Padres (16-23) got four runs in the seventh inning, as two errors on the same play by Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin allowed two runs to score. Eric Patterson, Chris Denorfia and Jason Bartlett knocked in runs.

"No doubt, that was a big play, a potential double-play ball. That turned into something really positive for us," Black said.

Trailing 7-5 in the eighth inning, the Padres got leadoff singles by Hawpe and Cameron Maybin -- who followed up consecutive four-hit games with two hits. Ryan Ludwick added a sacrifice fly to make it 7-6. Later in the inning, Patterson, who entered the game hitting .133, had a two-out RBI single up the middle to tie the game.

With Street on the mound in the ninth, Will Venable doubled into the left-field corner and advanced to third base on a bunt by Bartlett. The inning appeared to lose steam when Venable was thrown out at the plate by third baseman Ty Wigginton on a Jorge Cantu chopper down the line.

With Cantu at first base, Street quickly got ahead in the count on Hawpe with two strikes. Hawpe then took two balls before Street misfired on a 79 mph changeup, and Hawpe sent it into the second row of the second deck in right field.

"We made a bad pitch to Brad Hawpe," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. "Not so much the selection of the pitch, but if you're throwing the ball to Brad Hawpe, you'd better realize it had better be in a really good spot.

"I mean, lower than low. If it's not, exactly what took place, that's what you run the risk of having happen to you. That's exactly what he did. We've seen him hit balls like that down in the zone when he was wearing this uniform."

The home run was essentially an extension of the good roll Hawpe has been on since a miserable start with the Padres. He was at .098 on April 24, but is hitting .345 over the past 16 games with two home runs and seven RBIs.

"It's been focus, concentration and confidence," said Padres hitting coach Randy Ready. "His swing is shorter and more compact."

Hawpe's dramatic home run was the primary storyline, though the performance by the Padres' bullpen allowed a comeback in the first place after Aaron Harang surrendered seven runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Cory Luebke, Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams and closer Heath Bell not only combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings, but that quartet didn't allow a hit after it appeared the Rockies (20-17) were going to run away with this one after early home runs by Carlos Gonzalez and Todd Helton and a two-run double from Troy Tulowitzki.

Adams (2-0) got the victory and Bell worked a perfect ninth inning for his ninth save and the 100th of his career.

"At this place, you never feel like you're out of it," said Padres catcher Kyle Phillips, who contributed an RBI single in the second inning. "And these guys came in knowing what they wanted to do, and they executed it."

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