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Jennings' first win in month puts Rockies within reach of playoffs

DENVER (AP) -- Jason Jennings tossed a four-hitter and lost his
last outing, saying afterward that it was the most disappointed
he's ever been playing baseball.

It was the kind of misfortune that could have lingered with
Jennings in the past, something that might have affected his morale
or even his performance.

But not this year.

Bad hops, errors, lack of run support -- Jennings isn't letting
anything bother him this season and it's helped keep the Colorado Rockies within reach of their first playoff berth in 11 years.

Jennings worked through traffic in seven solid innings for his
first win in a month and Matt Holliday homered, helping the Rockies
inch closer to the NL West-leading San Diego Padres with a 3-1
victory on Sunday.

"Maybe it's part of being the staff ace and taking that
responsibility on. The guys look to him," Rockies manager Clint
Hurdle said. "When you're looking to your one guy, you don't want
to see a guy looking cross-eyed when things aren't going well,
pulling his hair out when things aren't working the way you'd like
them to work. He's showed some stability and some leadership, and
that could be it."

Jennings (7-9) had plenty of reason to be frustrated over the
last month.

Despite allowing more than two runs just once, Jennings was
winless in his previous six starts, going 0-3 with a 2.93 ERA.
There were a few misplayed balls and soft-hit balls that found
holes along the way, but the biggest problem was run support.

The Rockies scored one run or less in eight of Jennings' first
21 starts and he's allowed no runs in four of his six wins,
including a pair of shutouts. In his last outing, Tuesday against
St. Louis, the right-hander tossed a four-hitter for his third
complete game this season, but still lost 1-0.

Jennings had a 2-0 lead before he took the mound this time and
worked well around 10 baserunners, scattering six hits and getting
two inning-ending double plays for his first win since June 20
against Oakland.

The Padres had at least two runners in three of the first four
innings, including the bases loaded with none out in the second,
but managed just one run off Jennings -- on Dave Roberts' sacrifice
fly in the second.

"Just out of maturity, the more you pitch, the more you
experience stuff like that, the better you get at handling it,"
Jennings said. "It's just realizing I can control myself, I can't
control how the other guy pitches, how we hit, the defense. Just go
out there and pitch as best as I can and hopefully we'll go out
there and have a good day as a team."

The Padres got a solid start from Mike Thompson (3-3), who was
called up from Triple-A Portland just before the game, but managed
just seven hits and stranded eight runners. Instead of pulling away
in the division race after a four-game winning streak last week,
San Diego has seen its lead drop to 1½ games over Arizona.

"Mike gave us all we asked of him. Unfortunately, we were shut
down offensively," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.

The Rockies gave Jennings some help for once, though it wasn't
much.

Holliday hit his team-leading 19th homer in the fourth inning
and the Rockies made the most of their seven hits -- three by Todd Helton -- after going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position in a
4-2 loss to the Padres the night before. Brian Fuentes pitched the
ninth for his 19th save in 23 chances.

The Rockies, who had lost their previous five series, took three
of four from San Diego and have won five of eight overall to move
within 4½ games of the NL West lead.

"It was an important series," Hurdle said. "We needed to show
up and we needed to win three games."

Thompson was called up to start for right-hander Chan Ho Park,
who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with abdominal pain. The
right-hander had two other stints in the majors, filling in for
Woody Williams in May and making a spot start for Chris Young on
July 19, going 3-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 10 games.

Thompson was shaky early, throwing four of his first five
pitches about eye level to Jamey Carroll, then giving up
run-scoring singles to Garrett Atkins and Helton in the first
inning. But the right-hander settled in after that, giving up a
leadoff homer to Holliday in the fourth and not much else.

Thompson was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning
after allowing six hits and three runs.

"If I don't walk anyone I'm fine," said Thompson, who walked
three. "I was just so high. I was constantly up above the strike
zone. When I did throw a good fastball, they hit it."

Game notes
The Rockies sent minor league C Miguel Ojeda to the Texas
Rangers for cash. ... Hurdle turned 49. ... 2B Josh Barfield is the
first San Diego player to have 40 hits in a month since 2B Mark
Loretta did it in August 2004. ... Brian Knight was the second base
umpire, filling in for Rick Reed, who had to leave Saturday's game
because of flulike symptoms.