DENVER — Matt Holliday wore cleats from 2007. The Coors Field mojo almost felt straight from that decade, too.
When Colorado made a charge to its only World Series appearance, it was behind late-season wins just like the dramatic one the Rockies pulled out on this throwback Thursday.
Ian Desmond hit a two-run, two-out homer in the ninth inning, and the Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 4-3 in the return of the 38-year-old outfielder Holliday.
"When something special is happening, you find ways to win games," said Holliday, who wore a pair of black spikes that the clubhouse manager dug out of storage from '07 since Holliday had only a gray pair. "Those are important wins and a huge swing by Ian."
Desmond lined an 88-mph splitter from reliever Kirby Yates (4-3) over the fence in left after Trevor Story singled earlier in the ninth and stole second. It was Desmond's second career walk-off homer. His other was May 2, 2012, against Arizona.
"It felt good. It felt good to win the series," Desmond said. "Winning a series is really important this time of year."
Yates said the pitch to Desmond was one that didn't "have any bite to it."
"I got him the other night," Yates said. "He got me today."
Holliday was in Colorado's starting lineup for the first time in a decade after having his contract selected from Triple-A Albuquerque before the game. He finished 0 for 3 — he was lifted for a defensive replacement in the seventh — but had a long drive in the fifth that he thought was gone. He even went into a little hop.
"I remembered it was a tornado blowing in from left field," Holliday cracked. "I hit that good."
The Rockies overcame a baserunning blunder early and a costly error late to take two of three games from the Padres and move within one game of first-place Arizona in the NL West.
Jose Pirela came through with a bases-loaded, one-out hit up the middle off reliever Bryan Shaw to give the Padres a 3-2 lead. It was just after Story misplayed a slow roller.
Chris Rusin (1-2) worked a scoreless ninth to pick up the win.
Kyle Freeland turned in a solid outing by allowing two runs over 6 1/3 innings in the no-decision. The 25-year-old Denver native was elated to take the field with Holliday.
"That's a guy I looked up to big time, when I was in middle school and high school," Freeland said.
On a blustery day, Joey Lucchesi kept the Rockies in check for six innings. The left-hander allowed two runs and struck out six. His only major mistake was allowing a solo homer to David Dahl.
Lucchesi worked his way out of a messy situation in the third courtesy of a mistake on the bases by the Rockies. With no outs and runners on first and third, Dahl broke for home on Freeland's bunt, only to be thrown out. Charlie Blackmon then hit into a double play to end the threat.
It was an emotional day for Holliday, who returned to where his career began. The team played the song "Holiday Road" from "National Lampoon's Vacation" before the game. He also received a standing ovation before his first at-bat — a groundout to second.
Holliday hasn't played in the majors since last season with the New York Yankees. He suited up the first five seasons of his career for Colorado, hitting .290 as a rookie in 2004 and helping lead the Rockies to their only World Series appearance in 2007.
"I'm grateful to be back," said Holliday, who hit .319 with 128 homers for Colorado from 2004-08.
Padres: INF Christian Villanueva was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a fractured right middle finger. INF Carlos Asuaje was recalled from Triple-A El Paso.
San Diego infielder Wil Myers wasn't in the lineup after suffering a cut on his nose the day before. He was working on grounders at third during batting practice when a ball hit him. He entered as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and drew a walk. He hopes to play Friday.
"Hopefully get back over at third again and pretend like it never happened," Myers said.
Padres: Open a three-game series Friday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. LHP Clayton Richard (7-10, 5.11 ERA) goes for the Padres and LHP Rich Hill (5-4, 3.73) for the Dodgers.
Rockies: RHP Antonio Senzatela (4-3, 4.47) takes the mound Friday when the Rockies start a three-game series versus St. Louis. The Cardinals will throw RHP Miles Mikolas (13-3, 2.80).