Piazza nabs 12th 20-HR season; Padres pull within 1 of L.A.

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The San Diego Padres are getting things right
these days.

Mike Piazza homered, Cla Meredith extended his scoreless streak
to 27 1/3 innings and the San Padres beat the Colorado Rockies 5-4
Tuesday night to pull within one game of the NL West lead.

"Finally, we're able to get contributions from a lot of
different people," Piazza said. "We're doing the things we need
to do to win."

San Diego has won four straight and six of seven to close within
one game of division-leading Los Angeles. San Diego opened a
two-game lead in the wild-card race over Philadelphia, which was
rained out. Florida dropped three games back.

With his 417th career homer, Piazza reached the 20-home run mark
for the 12th time in 15 major league seasons.

Meredith (4-1) pitched two scoreless innings and is one-third of
an inning short of San Diego's club relief record, set by Mark
Davis in 1988. Meredith, a sidearming righty, has not surrendered a
run in his last 24 appearances.

"He has done an outstanding job," Padres manager Bruce Bochy
said. "He's pitching his heart out. He's loaded with confidence."

Manny Alexander had two RBI for San Diego, including a
run-scoring triple in the sixth that put the Padres ahead 4-3.
Alexander, who also had a sacrifice fly, then scored on a single by
Adrian Gonzalez.

"I fell behind every batter," Rockies starter Jeff Francis
said of the sixth. "I had to come to them at some point and make a
pitch right over the middle, right in the wheelhouse, and
[Alexander] took advantage of it."

Pinch-hitter Vinny Castilla, who began the season as the Padres'
third baseman, had a run-scoring single in the eighth against Scott
Linebrink to cut San Diego's lead to one run.

Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect the ninth for his 37th save in
41 chances. With 473 in his career, he is five shy of matching Lee
Smith's record.

Francis (11-11) gave up five runs and 10 hits in five-plus
innings as the Rockies lost for the 11th time in their last 12 road
games and dropped to 6-22 on the road since the All-Star break.

"Every mistake he made, he paid for, especially in the sixth,"
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

Padres starter Chris Young allowed three runs and six hits in
five-plus innings with eight strikeouts.

Garrett Atkins tied the score at 2 with a two-run homer in the
third. Brian Giles scored on Ben Johnson's infield out in the fifth
to give the Padres a 3-2 lead, but Colorado tied it in the sixth on
Yorvit Torrealba's leadoff homer.

Game notes
The Rockies have hit seven homers in their last three games
after homering just five times in the previous 10 games. ... Piazza
established the major league record for catchers by hitting 20 or
more homers in 10 consecutive seasons (1993-2002). ... The Padres,
4-1 on the homestand, pulled to .500 at home with a record of