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Pomeranz allows just two hits over six frames

DENVER -- Highly regarded rookie left-hander Drew Pomeranz came back to the Rockies with effectiveness on Sunday, even though his team took yet another giant step backward.

Pomeranz held the Padres to two hits and one unearned run in six innings. However, Padres pitcher Kip Wells -- yes, that Kip Wells -- threw seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory over the Rockies in front of 31,829 at Coors Field.

In 2008, Wells began the year with the Rockies and went 1-2 with a 5.27 ERA in 15 games, including two starts, before being released. It was time for revenge on Sunday, as Wells (1-1), in his second start since being brought up from Triple-A Tucson, held the Rockies to six hits. Wells, who struck out two and walked two, led the fifth shutout of the Rockies this season, their third sustained at home.

The Padres (30-50) won 2-of-3 at Coors and tied the Rockies (30-48) in the win column. Now only the Cubs have fewer wins. The Rockies also dropped to 2-11 on Sundays this year, after going 6-19 last year. In such situations, the Rockies have to settle for forward steps in development. Pomeranz's effort counts.

Pomeranz (0-3), the centerpiece in last summer's trade that sent former Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians, spent nine starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs correcting delivery flaws, regaining velocity and basically waiting for another chance. He made the most of it Sunday.

"That's what I was down there to do: Go down there and figure it out in, I guess, a less-pressure situation, and I think I did," Pomeranz said. "I think I showed them.

"It was probably the last three or four starts down there [that he felt ready to return]. The first couple, I felt good, but I think I was pretty much the same. The last three or four, I don't think I had a great outing every time, but I had some good ones. It felt like it was coming out of my hand right every time."

Pomeranz faced trouble in the second, when he walked Yonder Alonso and hit Cameron Maybin, but he escaped cleanly. The unearned run came in the third, when Chris Denorfia singled, stole second and scored when third baseman Jordan Pacheco fielded Logan Forsythe's soft looper on a bounce and threw wildly to first.

Pomeranz had help from center fielder Dexter Fowler, who had two of the Rockies' seven hits. Fowler fielded Yasmani Grandal's line drive and threw to the plate to retire Forsythe, who was trying to score from third.

The biggest success for Pomeranz was regaining power on his fastball. After arriving last year, Pomeranz developed a habit of "cutting" his fastball, letting his fingers slip to the outside of the ball. It gave his pitches side-to-side movement, but without power, his pitches were hittable and he didn't resemble the player the Rockies coveted.

In another small victory, Pomeranz made it three straight strong performances from the Rockies' new four-man starting rotation. Now they are facing stronger offensive competition in St. Louis and Washington on a seven-game road trip that starts on Monday.

At least it looks as if Pomeranz is right.

"He actually put on a clinic, as far as I'm concerned, on pitching inside and pitching effectively inside," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "I don't know how many bats he broke, but if I were to guess, it would be a half-dozen. He looked different than he did earlier."

When it came to looking different, Wells was barely recognizable for Rockies fans.

Wells worked Marco Scutaro into a line drive to right after Fowler tripled with two outs in the third inning, forced Pacheco to ground out after Tyler Colvin doubled with two out in the second and forced a Colvin grounder to end the sixth with two on base.

"I got balls hit at people when I needed them to and the balls in the air hung up," Wells said. "And when I did give up extra-base hits, there were two outs."

It was the second shutout the club sustained at the hands of a former Rockies pitcher. Kevin Millwood, who threw for Colorado last season, tossed a complete-game two-hitter in a 4-0 Mariners victory on May 18. The Giants' Barry Zito blanked the Rockies, 7-0, in their home opener.

"He didn't make a mistake over the plate," the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer said of Wells. "If he made a mistake, it was a ball, and he put balls on the corner. He didn't give us too many balls to drive."

The Padres scored on two seventh-inning hits against left-handed reliever Rex Brothers, who had not given up a run in 7 2/3 previous innings.

Luke Gregerson and former Rockies closer Huston Street (12 saves), who was invited to the All-Star Game on Sunday, held the Rockies for the final two innings.

"I still have a lot of love for this organization, I got to give some hugs and shake some hands with a lot of Rockies today," Street said. "It's almost like competing against your brother. I was their teammate for three years, which drives you a little bit more."

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