SAN DIEGO — Matt Kemp wasn’t enough to trip up Zach Davies and the comeback kids.
The Padres know how difficult it is to survive Kemp.
They did it again Wednesday night at Petco Park, twice answering go-ahead runs by the Rockies with go-ahead runs of their own and completing their first home sweep of the season with a 5-3 victory.
When he was with the Padres in 2015-16, Kemp played like he was 47 years old and didn’t endear himself to anyone. Making matters worse, he has terrorized them on the field since he left.
Kemp hit his fourth home run of the season against the Padres, 80% of his 2020 total, to put the Rockies up 3-2 in the sixth inning before the Padres scored two runs in the bottom of the inning on Mitch Moreland’s single, Wil Myers’ triple and Jake Cronenworth’s single.
The Padres added a run in the eighth when Myers doubled and scored on Austin Nola’s single.
When Drew Pomeranz worked a scoreless eighth and Trevor Rosenthal a perfect ninth, the Padres had their major league-leading 18th come-from-behind victory.
Their magic number will be no higher than 12 by the end of the night. It could be as low as 11, depending on whether the Giants — who will be at Petco Park for four games starting Thursday — beat the Mariners. (The magic number is the combined number of Padres wins and losses by the third-place Giants that would clinch second place in the National League West for the Padres.)
Davies, who allowed three runs and struck out eight in six innings, earned his seventh win, tied for most in the majors.
After a two-homer first inning — one by Trevor Story that gave the Rockies a 1-0 lead and the other by Mitch Moreland that put the Padres up 2-1 — a pitchers’ duel ensued for a time.
Kind of a low-key one.
It wasn’t Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom out there, just a couple of other right-handers who are pretty good at getting people out.
Davies entered Wednesday at 6-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 0.93 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched). The six wins were tied for second most in the National League. The ERA was fifth lowest, the WHIP eighth.
Antonio Senzatela (now 3-2 with a 3.69 ERA) isn’t having quite the same success as Davies this season. Except he was sensational when he faced the Padres twice at Coors Field.
Senzatella put up seven shutout innings against the Padres on Aug. 29 and allowed them one run in six innings Aug. 2.
It’s evidently tougher for him to pitch at sea level, though he navigated trouble well for three innings between Moreland’s first homer with the Padres and the two-run sixth inning.
The Padres had a chance to get to Senzatela and add to their Slam Diego lore in the second inning, loading the bases with one out before Trent Grisham lined out to shortstop and Fernando Tatis Jr. grounded out.
After Story’s homer, Davies walked two and allowed a single before Nolan Arenado’s one-out double in the sixth inning.
Davies then retired Kevin Pillar on a fly ball to right field, which brought Kemp to the plate.
He reached well below the strike zone to send a 2-1 change-up from Davies over the wall in left-center field to give the Rockies a 3-2 lead.
Kemp has five home runs this season, all but one against the Padres. Three are against Davies, half of the total he has surrendered.
Kemp was traded on July 30, 2016 for another bad contract — Hector Olivera, who the Padres promptly designated for assignment but have had to pay $30 million over the past four years.
In 37 games against the Padres since departing, Kemp is batting .333 (43-for-129) with nine home runs and five doubles. He finished this season 10-for-28 (.357) against them.
Davies got Josh Fuentes on a pop-up for his final out.
Davies has pitched at least five innings and gotten the decision in each of his starts. He is 6-1 with a 2.03 ERA over his past seven starts after allowing five runs and splitting his first two starts with the Padres.
Dan Altavilla pitched a scoreless seventh before Pomeranz extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings to start the season and Rosenthal earned his second save as a Padre.
©2020 The San Diego Union-Tribune