By PAT GRAHAM, Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Juan Nicasio threw 6 1-3 solid innings for his first win since returning from a broken neck, lifting the Colorado Rockies over the San Diego Padres 8-4 on Wednesday night.
Nicasio (1-0) gave up four runs and seven hits as he made his second start at Coors Field since Aug. 5, when he was hit in the right temple by a line drive and suffered a fractured skull along with the neck injury.
The hard-throwing righty earned a spot in the rotation with a strong spring — a remarkable recovery considering that doctors were fearful he might not walk again after the accident, let alone take the mound.
Nicasio also singled home a run, the first RBI of the young pitcher's career. That hit finished Clayton Richard (1-1), who didn't have his best command as he surrendered eight runs in 5 1-3 innings.
Jonathan Herrera and Michael Cuddyer had two-run homers as Colorado finished with nine extra-base hits. An inning after homering, Cuddyer left following the sixth with a bruised left big toe.
Chase Headley homered twice for the Padres. He hit a solo shot in the first and a two-run homer in the sixth. It was the first career multihomer game for the third baseman, who grew up not far away in Fountain, Colo.
It's been an arduous road back for Nicasio since being struck by a ball off the bat of Washington's Ian Desmond. Doctors had to perform emergency surgery to insert pins into the cracked C-1 vertebra and attach a small metal plate to the back of his neck.
Soon after, he showed up at Coors Field wearing a brace to stabilize his neck and received a warm ovation from the crowd.
Nicasio got another one when he was taken out in the seventh. As he walked off the mound to roaring applause, he tipped his cap.
Esmil Rogers pitched 1 2-3 innings of effective relief and Matt Belisle worked the ninth.
Rockies star Troy Tulowitzki was given the night off, but manager Jim Tracy insisted it wasn't so the smooth-fielding shortstop could clear his head.
Tulowitzki already has six errors this season, matching the total he had all of 2011 when he won his second straight Gold Glove. He had a two-error game on Tuesday, his second in four games and only the fourth of his career.
Not only that, but Tulowitzki's fielding funk has carried over into the batter's box, where his average has dipped to .244.
"It ends up being a wonderful opportunity to give him a chance to step away from it for a couple of days," Tracy said.
Tulowitzki's good friend, Jason Giambi, took his message a step farther, taking the All-Star into the video room.
"Showed him some highlights of him playing and said, 'That's you. That's you,'" Giambi said. "He'll get through this just great. He'll be fine."
With Tulowitzki out, the Rockies inserted Marco Scutaro in at short and gave Herrera the start at second.
The Rockies pounced on Richard in the second, lacing four doubles and a homer in a five-run burst. Wilin Rosario was back in the lineup with starter Ramon Hernandez still experiencing a little soreness in his left hand after a swing he took earlier in the week. Rosario went 2 for 4 with a double.
NOTES: A day after becoming the oldest pitcher to win a game in the majors, 49-year-old Jamie Moyer said the Hall of Fame has asked for his glove and hat. "It's very flattering," he said. "For them to ask for articles from last night's game, it's a huge honor." ... Padres manager Bud Black gave OF Cameron Maybin a day off after a rough stretch on the road in which he's 2 for 19. While Maybin has been leading off for the Padres, Black said, "Don't be surprised if he hits somewhere different tomorrow."... San Diego finished up a six-game trip with a 1-5 mark. ... RHP Joe Wieland (0-1) will start Thursday for the Padres against the Phillies. ... After a day off, RHP Jhoulys Chacin (0-1) will start at Milwaukee on Friday. ... A woman in the stands was struck in the left arm by a piece of Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez's splintered bat.
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