DENVER -- After flourishing during a demanding portion of the schedule, the Colorado Rockies have their sights trained on October but can't look past the lowly San Diego Padres in a three-game series that starts Tuesday.
Left-handers Tyler Anderson (6-5, 4.39 ERA) of the Rockies and Robbie Erlin (2-3, 3.33) of the Padres will oppose each other in the opener.
The Rockies (68-56) are coming off a 5-1 road trip that concluded with their first four-game sweep in Atlanta in franchise history and gave them eight wins in their past nine games.
The series with the Braves also ended the Rockies' National League-record tying stretch of 46 consecutive games against teams with a winning record. The 1926 Philadelphia Phillies went 15-31, and the 2012 Braves went 22-24 in similar stretches. The Rockies were 30-16, a spree that enabled them to go from 6 1/2 games behind to a half game back in the NL West. The Rockies are the only team in the NL West never to have won the division.
Colorado's surge coincides with remarks that third baseman Nolan Arenado made to The Athletic in late June. Speaking for himself and his teammates, Arenado said, "I'm tired of coming to the ballpark and losing. We work too hard as a group to experience that. I'm not saying I go home questioning, like, 'I don't like this place.' I love it here. But yeah, I want to win. And the more we lose, the more I -- if you lose all the time, nobody wants to be there."
After the Rockies' win Sunday that completed their four-game sweep in Atlanta, Arenado dismissed the notion that anything he said factored into the team's subsequent success.
"Talking doesn't get it done. It's the way the guys are playing," Arenado told reporters. "Everybody's contributing -- the starting pitching, the bullpen, the defense, the offense. I think the offense can probably do a little bit better job, but we're finding a way. And our pitchers are keeping us in games."
Anderson gave up a career-high nine runs in 4 1/3 innings Wednesday in Houston and lost 12-1. He has gone seven straight starts without a win and is 0-2 with a 5.67 ERA in that stretch. But he has a 1.35 ERA in his past five home games.
Anderson is 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three starts against the Padres this year and 2-1 with a 2.27 ERA in six career starts against them.
Erlin is 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts since going into the Padres' rotation. He received a no-decision Wednesday in San Diego's 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, allowing two runs in six innings. Erlin is 3-2 with a 6.18 ERA in 11 games (four starts) against the Rockies and 3-1 with 7.88 ERA in seven games (two starts) at Coors Field.
The Padres (49-78) have the worst record in the NL and third worst in the majors. They concluded a 3-7 homestand Sunday and have played better on the road (26-35) than at home (23-43). They are 12-30 since July 1 and haven't had a three-game winning streak since June 2-4.
The Rockies and Padres last played May 15, and since then the Padres' bullpen has undergone immense change. Right-handers Robert Stock, Trey Wingenter and Miguel Diaz and left-hander Jose Castillo are now in the San Diego relief corps and all can reach the high 90s.
"It's nice when we can throw a fastball behind in the count and say, 'Here you go, hit it,'" Padres catcher Austin Hedges told MLB.com. "I don't care who you are, if know a fastball's coming, it's still not easy to hit a 98 mph fastball. It definitely gives us more to work with.
"It's different. A lot of guys we've had the last couple years have been more off-speed stuff, command guys. They've got to pitch a little bit more. These guys maybe don't have to pitch as much. It's just, 'Here's my best stuff.' When you execute that around the zone, you get a lot of strikeouts."