Arenado's big blast off Lincecum carries Rox to sweep of Giants
By Eric Gilmore and Thomas Harding
SAN FRANCISCO -- A night after showing his two-time Rawlings Gold Glove prowess with a stunning catch, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado showed he can hit as well.
Arenado's three-run, first-inning homer lifted the Rockies past the Giants, 4-2, for their sixth win in as many road games. It completed just the Rockies' fourth sweep of a series at AT&T Park since it opened in 2000.
"A lot of guys are excited right now, not only to sweep but to win a series against the Giants -- it's always tough here," Arenado said.
Arenado's homer, his third this season, came off Giants starter Tim Lincecum (0-1), who gave up another run (unearned) in the second and lasted five innings (six hits, one walk, no strikeouts).
Rockies lefty starter Tyler Matzek (1-0) gave up a first-inning run but eventually would retire 10 in a row at one point and go six innings, with five hits, two strikeouts and one walk. In the three games, it was the Rockies' only quality start of allowing three or fewer runs in at least six innings even though the Giants' run off Matzek was their only one against a starter in the series. More >
The Giants' Matt Duffy homered off Boone Logan with one out in the bottom of the eighth and two more reached base, but Logan escaped. Adam Ottavino struck out two while earning his second save in as many opportunities since being named the Rockies' closer.
The Giants not only were swept in their first home series as defending World Series champs, but they have lost six straight and have averaged 1.5 runs per game during the skid.
"When you go through a stretch like this it is definitely magnified when it's the start of the season,'' Giants catcher Buster Posey said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Staying slow to get a step ahead: Lincecum had Arenado down, 0-2, with the second strike being an 80-mph slider. Wanting to stay slow, Lincecum threw a 79-mph changeup. Arenado stayed patient and golfed the pitch into the left-center bleachers for a 3-0 lead.
"I just wanted to make sure I stayed on the ball, think middle, before I pulled off it," said Arenado, who will celebrate his 24th birthday Thursday -- with the Rockies off -- with a home-cooked celebration meal at his family's Lake Forest, Calif., home. "Luckily enough, I got a pitch to hit and put a swing on it."
Duffy goes deep: Duffy hit his first career home run, a solo shot into the left-field seats off Logan with one out in the eighth. Angel Pagan lined a single to center and Posey walked, but Justin Maxwell struck out and Hector Sanchez hit a weak ground ball to end the inning. More >
Scrapping on the road: Plays like Arenado's homer are always good. But to win consistently on the road, the Rockies have to manufacture runs. In the second, Michael McKenry reached on an error and DJ LeMahieu singled to run his hit streak to nine games. Then Matzek delivered a sacrifice bunt and Charlie Blackmon added a sacrifice fly to drive in a run. It's the type of offense that could mean dramatic improvement over last season's franchise-worst 21-60 road record.
"Charlie Blackmon had a great at-bat. Lincecum threw him three really good changeups," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
No answer for Arenado: Lincecum can't say he was surprised when Arenado launched his three-run homer in the first inning. Arenado took him deep for a three-run shot on March 31 in a Spring Training game. Going into the game, Arenado was batting .444 (4-for-9) against Lincecum. Lincecum gave up just one more run in the second inning, but the damage was done.
"He [Arenado] is their guy. He's a nice player. He's maybe the best defensive third baseman in the game and the guy hits in the heart of the order." -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy on Arenado.
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The Rockies' 7-2 start is tied for best in franchise history with 1995, 1997 and 2011.
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: The Rockies were no-hit by Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw last season at Dodger Stadium and haven't fared well against him. But so far this has been a different Rockies team on the road. The Rockies, with Kyle Kendrick starting, will face the Dodgers Friday at 8:10 p.m. MT.
Giants: Left-hander Madison Bumgarner will make his third start of the season Thursday at 7:15 p.m. PT against Arizona in the opener of a four-game series at AT&T Park. Bumgarner gave up five runs and 10 hits and lasted only three innings in his last start Saturday at San Diego.