Rockies ride Butler's fine start to split with Giants
By Willie Bans and Thomas Harding
SAN FRANCISCO -- Right-hander Eddie Butler struck out a career-high six in six scoreless innings as the Rockies defeated the Giants, 2-0, on Sunday afternoon to earn a split of a four-game series and complete a 10-game road trip with six victories.
"I felt a little bit out of rhythm early on, but in the fourth or fifth inning I really started to attack the zone with good pitches," said Butler, who won for the first time since last May 30, and gave the Rockies their second shutout of the road trip..
With the Giants' bullpen depleted by some short starts and Saturday's 13-inning game, Samardzija ate 7 2/3 innings, threw 123 pitches and emerged with nine strikeouts while keeping his team in the game. For this, he left to a standing ovation.
It was the second-most pitches he's thrown in his career.
"A really impressive outing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's a tough loss. He pitched great; he pitched his heart out. He's got the ability to maintain his stuff over that many pitches. He did a great job of saving our bullpen. We just couldn't get it going offensively."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Stopping trouble:Brandon Belt singled and Hunter Pence doubled with one out in the second. Too often in Butler's starts of the last three seasons, he couldn't stop rallies. But after intentionally walking Brandon Crawford, Butler fanned Mac Williamson swinging and Samardzija looking, then didn't let another runner cross second base.
"It was time to hunker down and make pitches -- I wasn't really doing that early on," said Butler, who also picked off Gregor Blanco, who tried to advance from second to third during Butler's windup in the first inning.
Can't bring 'em in: For the second consecutive game, the Giants struggled to plate runners. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position Sunday. Saturday's troubles were overshadowed by Matt Duffy's 13th-inning walk-off double, but Sunday they didn't have enough clutch hits. Buster Posey flied out with runners on first and second and two outs in the eighth, and the Giants struck out at very inopportune times.
"A game like this you need a timely hit and we couldn't get it," Bochy said. More >
Calming the waters: Appearing in his third game of the series, Rockies reliever Carlos Estevez retired the first two batters of the eighth before walking Joe Panik and Duffy. Manager Walt Weiss went to veteran righty Chad Qualls, who needed just two pitches to retire Posey. Jake McGee rebounded from a blown save Saturday for his eighth save in 10 chances.
Could have, should have: Pence's double to right-center in the second left his bat in a hurry and was nearly a home run before it bounced off the arcade. Belt, though, did not read it as such and waited to see if right fielder Carlos Gonzalez would catch it. Belt only made it to third instead of scoring. Part of the reason Belt didn't score was the manner in which center fielder Charlie Blackmon played the ball.
"I knew if that thing hit the wall it was going to bounce hard, so I wasn't just lucky standing over there," Blackmon said. "It's a lot like that high wall in right at Coors Field, so it's already a habit for me to hustle over."
The Rockies' National League West performance against the D-backs (3-0), Padres (1-2) and Giants marked first time the Rockies finished a road trip of at least 10 games above .500 since going 8-3 against the Astros, Cardinals and Brewers June 1-11, 2009. More >
"Samardzija is a competitor -- he came back out for that eighth inning with 115 pitches. He's a horse. Luckily, we got a couple of runs off him. We battled. We got three two-strike hits, and that was huge for us." -- Arenado on pushing across enough runs to defeat Samardzija
"When you're not doing a lot offensively, you try to make something happen," -- Bochy, whose club was caught stealing twice Sunday
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Arenado went 6-for-15 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and four RBIs in the four-game set against the Giants, and is hitting .438 (32-for-73) with 34 RBIs in his last 18 games against San Francisco.
In the top of the ninth, Rockies catcher Dustin Garneau, realizing Duffy's throw to first was high, slid beneath a leaping Belt and was originally ruled safe. But replay overturned the call and ended the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: Righty Tyler Chatwood (4-2, 2.15 ERA) carries a 16 1/3-inning scoreless streak into a start against the D-backs at Coors Field on Monday at 6:40 p.m. MT.
Giants:Jake Peavy's starts will be critically evaluated, including Monday's home start at 7:15 p.m. PT against Toronto. The 34-year-old right-hander is 1-3 with a 9.00 ERA. San Francisco would like to get better results from the back end of its rotation.