The education of Juan Nicasio continued Tuesday night in the Rockies' 3-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

A quartet of relievers finished the job, with closer LaTroy Hawkins notching his third save with a crisp ninth inning that ended with a 5-4-3 double play.

Always blessed with a thunderbolt four-seam fastball, Nicasio is learning how to master his slider and split-finger changeup.

After a bumpy start, Nicasio (2-0, 3.50 ERA) finished the game throwing six solid innings, allowing two runs on six hits, striking out three and walking one. Right now, he's the best pitcher in the Rockies' makeshift rotation. He even drew a tip of the cap from Padres manager Bud Black.

"He really started finding his location with his fastball, then he got confidence in his slider and changeup and was able to turn it around," Black said.

Nicasio is 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in six career starts against the Padres, who are hitting just .234 against him.

Nicasio's evening at Petco Park started out like a flight into DIA — turbulent. He gave up four consecutive hits in the Padres' first, including RBI singles to former Rockie Seth Smith and Jedd Gyorko. Nicasio threw 31 pitches in the first inning, and it appeared he would have his elbow on ice by the fourth inning. But he settled down and made adjustments, something he failed to do last season.

"In the first inning I gave up some hits and two runs, but then I calmed myself down and made good pitches down in the zone," said Nicasio, who needed just 68 pitches (13.6 per inning) over his final five frames.