Weary Rockies hang on vs. Padres in 22nd inning for historic win

Updated: April 18, 2008, 8:26 PM ET
Associated Press

It started with reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy throwing the first pitch just before sunset and ended right around last call.

In between, the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres played baseball for 6 hours, 16 minutes. There was a seventh-inning stretch, a 14th-inning stretch and finally, a 21st-inning stretch.

So forgive Colorado's Yorvit Torrealba and San Diego's Josh Bard if their knees are a little sore -- they caught all 22 innings.

Torrealba wearily pumped a fist in celebration at 1:21 a.m. Friday after Kip Wells finally secured the Rockies' 2-1 victory by getting Padres pitcher Glendon Rusch to take a called third strike on the game's 659th pitch. San Diego's spacious Petco Park simply didn't surrender much offense on a pleasant spring night -- and early morning.

Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks would have loved this one, since he always used to say, "Let's play two!" But even he might have worn down a bit, since this was roughly the equivalent of 2 games.

It was the longest game in the majors since Aug. 31, 1993, when Minnesota beat Cleveland 5-4 in 22 innings; the longest in Rockies history and in the 5-year history of Petco Park; and the longest by innings for the Padres.

It was one minute short of matching San Diego's longest by time.

"That was an incredible baseball game," Padres manager Bud Black said. "It will go down as one that everybody who was here, will never forget it."

How could they -- it ranks among the 17 longest games in big league history, by inning. The longest ever was 26 innings, a 1-1 tie between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Braves on May 1, 1920, at Boston. That game, by the way, took only 3 hours, 50 minutes.

There's something about these two teams and extra innings. On Oct 1, Colorado rallied past the Padres for a 9-8 win in 13 innings in the wild-card tiebreaker game at Coors Field.

That game was epic.

[+] EnlargeWilly Taveras
AP Photo/Lenny IgnelziColorado's Willy Taveras is congratulated after scoring the eventual winning run early Friday morning in the 22nd inning against the Padres.

This one was ponderous, with no scoring until the 14th and the Rockies winning it with an unearned run.

"It's definitely better to win in a 22-inning game than lose, I'll tell you that," said Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who delivered the go-ahead hit.

"It's tough," said San Diego's Jim Edmonds, who entered as a pinch-hitter in the 10th and remained in the game in center field. "Especially being the home team, you think you can push a run across."

Tulowitzki's RBI double with two outs in the 22nd brought in Willy Taveras, who scored both of the Rockies' runs.

Taveras, who set a Rockies record for at-bats in going 3-for-10, reached on an error by normally automatic shortstop Khalil Greene, whose high throw pulled 6-foot-7 first baseman Tony Clark off the bag. Taveras stole second and advanced on Bard's throwing error.

"It's tough to keep your head into it and put together good at-bats and be into every pitch," Tulowitzki said. "We were talking about how our legs were hurting out there. It's tough to stand on your feet for 22 innings and keep moving."

Then, both teams had planes to catch -- the Rockies to Houston and the Padres to Phoenix.

There's no curfew in the NL, but there is an 11:30 p.m. curfew for takeoffs at Lindbergh Field because of residential neighborhoods just west of the runway.

The teams' charter flights took off sometime around 3 a.m., said Sharie Shipley of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. The charter companies will "definitely" have to go before the curfew violation review panel and face possible fines, she said.

The Rockies arrived in Houston at about 8:30 a.m. CDT and got caught in morning rush hour on the drive to their hotel.

Reliever Taylor Buchholz said it reminded him of arriving in Philadelphia for the playoffs the morning after beating the Padres in the 13-inning game.

"It was kind of that same feeling, when you're landing and the sun's coming up and you're hitting rush-hour traffic. It's all too familiar, I guess," said Buchholz, who pitched the ninth and 10th in San Diego.

The Padres got into Phoenix about 3:45 a.m., spokeswoman Leah Tobin said.

Some Padres players amused themselves in the 18th by taping up the head of a stuffed ram and placing it on the front bench in the dugout. After the 18th, shortly after midnight, the sprinklers came on in the Park at the Park, a grassy knoll beyond the bleachers in right-center.

Padres pitcher Greg Maddux had his glove on in the dugout in the 22nd. It was wishful thinking, because he was scheduled to start Friday night at Arizona, when the 42-year-old will try for his 350th career victory.

The stadium's cleanup crew sat listlessly in the far upper deck as the game dragged on, some appearing to be asleep.

At one point, it seemed as if every remaining fan was going to get a foul ball. In the 14th inning, a man in the second deck caught a foul ball and yelled, "That's it, I'm going home!" as other fans cheered. He stayed until the end.

Only a fraction of the crowd of 25,984 was around to see the final out.

With alcohol sales cut off at the end of the seventh, the big sellers at the concession stands in the final innings were ice cream and coffee, Padres president Richard Andersen said.

Three Rockies pitchers retired 23 straight Padres batters from the second to the 10th inning.

As good as starters Peavy and Jeff Francis were, Wil Ledezma threw five terrific innings for the Padres and Wells was solid for four. The teams used a combined 15 pitchers.

Padres pitchers tied a team record with 20 strikeouts and their Rockies counterparts set a team record with 17 punchouts. Colorado stranded 16 runners and San Diego 14.

Had the game plodded on, Wells probably would have pitched one more inning, then take up a position and be replaced by infielder Clint Barmes.

"That would've been interesting," manager Clint Hurdle said. "That would've been another thing that I've never been a part of. That would've been the first move I ever made where no one second-guessed me."

Hurdle tried to put in perspective, telling his players that a lot of people go through a lot worse in life than playing ball all night.

"They had a good ballgame. It just happened to be 22 innings long and six hours," Hurdle said. "They had a good plane ride. They just happened to do it from 2 till 7. You take a nap and you go play. We're going to do the best we can."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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