DENVER — Viewed as a power pitcher, Jon Gray always felt he needed to rely on strikeouts.
He altered that thinking. This is Jon Gray: Version 2.0.
Gray threw effectively into the seventh inning and Ian Desmond hit a two-run triple in the sixth, leading the Colorado Rockies to a 6-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.
"Jon wasn't as crisp as we've seen him, but yet he pitched into the seventh inning," Rockies manager Bud Black said.
All part of his change.
He was sent to the minors earlier this season to hone his command and Gray returned a different pitcher. He doesn't rely on his fastball as much as he placed more faith in his breaking pitches.
"It's more of a controlled aggression than being aggressive," Gray explained. "I'm not trying to make it nasty and throw it under their bat. I'm trying to make a quality pitch that's sharp, that's in the strike zone, but keeping it out of the heart of the plate."
Gray (10-7) went 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs before running out of steam and turning it over to the bullpen. He's now 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA over seven starts since his recall from Triple-A Albuquerque.
"I hit the reset button," Gray said.
After allowing a run in the first, Gray settled into a groove against a Padres team that was missing infielder Wil Myers after he was a late scratch. Myers sustained a cut on his nose when a grounder hit him in the face while he was fielding during batting practice.
Padres manager Andy Green said after the game there was no concussion.
"He definitely took a hard one off the face. I don't know that he was ever pretty but he's definitely not pretty right now," Green said. "Probably down (Thursday) and hope we can get him back in rhythm in L.A."
Myers was scheduled to make his eighth start at third base as the Padres experimented with sliding the veteran first baseman across the infield. Instead, Cory Spangenberg moved to third and Jose Pirela played second.
Rockies catcher Tony Wolters added an RBI triple and a run-scoring sacrifice fly for the rolling Rockies, who began the day 1 1/2 games behind NL West-leading Arizona.
Jacob Nix (1-2) turned in a solid outing in his first career road start. He allowed three runs over five innings.
"There's still very much to like and a lot to look forward to," Green said of his right-hander.
The Rockies improved to 24-24 against teams with a losing record. In contrast, they're 45-33 versus those at or above the .500 mark.
"It shows you why you can't sleep on anybody," said Carlos Gonzalez, who had an RBI single in the first.
Padres: INF Christian Villanueva has a fractured finger and will be placed on the disabled list, Green said.
The New York Yankees acquired catcher Chris Rabago off waivers from the Rockies and optioned him to Double-A Trenton. The move freed up a spot on the 40-man roster for the Rockies, which could potentially be used to add Matt Holliday. The slugger is currently hitting .346 with Triple-A Albuquerque.
GONE TO THE DOGS
It was a "ruff" night as a parade of pooches made their way around the field before the game as part of a promotion called "Bark at the Park."
"This is the tail end of the dog days" of summer, Black joked. "This is the back end of the dog days."
Spangenberg had an RBI double in the first, which has turned into a problematic inning for the Rockies. The starting pitchers have allowed 110 runs in the opening inning this season.
START OF SOMETHING
The Rockies have now won each of Gray's last nine starts. It matches Ubaldo Jimenez's stretch in 2010 for the team's longest win streak during a pitcher's starts in franchise history.
THIS & THAT
Gray was cruising along, retiring 12 straight, before SS Freddy Galvis lined a solo homer in the seventh. ... Desmond scored two runs and stole a base.
Padres LHP Joey Lucchesi (6-7, 3.79 ERA) makes his fourth career start against Colorado on Thursday. The Rockies counter with LHP Kyle Freeland (11-7, 2.96). He's 7-2 with a 2.22 ERA in 11 starts at home.