DENVER - If ever there were to be a preordained outcome in a baseball game, it was going to materialize Wednesday night at Coors Field. Just 24 hours after suffering the ignominy of a 20-1 bat-tering at the hands of the Rockies, the Padres sent out their ace, Jake Peavy (13-7), to match up against Colorado’s Mike Esposito, making his major league debut in a game with playoff implications for San Diego. While the Rockies didn’t come close to suffering the same degree of ignominy as the Padres a night earlier, they ended up with the same bottom-line result: a loss, dropping a 5-2 decision that kept the Padres five games ahead of the Giants in the NL West. “Yesterday is yesterday,” Peavy said after allowing 18 fewer runs than his fellow staff members had in the same 7q inning span a night earlier. “I know they had a great offensive output, but that doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter how you get wins this late in the season. If the magic number is eight, you want to see it come down to seven.” That’s exactly where it stands this morning, with considerable assistance from Dave Roberts. The Padres’ center fielder went 4-for-4 with two triples a double, a walk, one run scored and two RBIs to pace an 11-hit attack. “This was a very big game for us. We don’t want to scoreboard watch too much, but we knew the Giants had won,” Roberts said. “Jake is our staff ace and he is our stopper. When he takes the mound, we expect to win baseball games.” They might have expected to do the same with any starter, considering they were facing a 23-year-old in his first major league start. Esposito’s first pitch was a strike. Roberts sent the second into right field for a single and, two outs later, Brian Giles ended Esposito’s hopes of pitching a shutout with a hard single to right for a 1-0 lead. Danny Ardoin tied it in the second with a shot over the center-field wall for his fifth homer. But the Padres took the lead in the third on Peavy’s leadoff single and Roberts’ run-scoring triple. That set up the highlight of the evening for Esposito, who did as well as any veteran hurler in working out of the jam without further damage. But Roberts’ second triple in two innings drove in Robert Fick (single) to make it 3-1 in the fourth and the Padres coasted from there. TODAY Colorado (Cook 5-1, 3.36 ERA) vs. San Diego (Eaton 10-4, 4.10 ERA), 1:05 p.m., 850 AM
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