SAN FRANCISCO -- The Colorado Rockies' grip on a postseason berth slipped somewhat Tuesday night as Hunter Pence's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the ninth inning lifted the San Francisco Giants to a 4-3 victory. Colorado's fourth loss in six games trimmed its lead to a game over Milwaukee, a 1-0 winner over Pittsburgh, for the National League's second Wild Card spot.
"Right now is not a good time to sit and complain or cry about a game you end up losing," Colorado right fielder Carlos Gonzalez said. "You have to keep moving forward and keep your head up. We're still in postseason if the season finished today. We're in the driver's seat. The guys behind you have more pressure than us. … If you keep pushing and playing hard, eventually you'll get wins."
With the score tied, 3-3, Pablo Sandoval opened the Giants' ninth with an infield single off reliever Chris Rusin and was replaced by pinch-runner Orlando Calixte. Ryder Jones' subsequent sacrifice-bunt attempt eluded third baseman Nolan Arenado before Rusin grabbed the ball but threw wide to first base. Jones was safe and received credit for a single.
"I don't think you intentionally try and squeeze it between the pitcher and the third baseman by bunting it that firmly," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "If you miss, it's potentially a double play because Nolan gets it. … I think it was unintentional."
After Jones, pinch-hitter Kelby Tomlinson's single loaded the bases. Up came Pence, with the Rockies employing a five-man infield. It didn't matter as he lined a 1-1 pitch to center, where Gonzalez snared the ball but had no play at home plate.
"They're in a tough situation, going with the five-man infield," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I thought Hunter did a great job making sure he didn't try to pull it or hit it on the ground. He smoked it."
Charlie Blackmon's two-run, second-inning double off Giants starter Johnny Cueto opened the scoring. The Giants struck against Rockies starter German Marquez in the fourth as Buster Posey beat out an infield single, took second on a groundout and scored on Sandoval's single. Pence's two-run homer one inning later put San Francisco on top, but the Rockies pulled even in the eighth inning as Gonzalez doubled and scored on Gerardo Parra's two-out, two-strike double off Hunter Strickland.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Pence produces power: Pence needed some time to do so, but he finally hit his 12th homer of the season. The Giants right fielder had gone 84 at-bats without homering, a stretch that dated back to Aug. 18. Pence's drive to center field traveled a projected 444 feet, according to Statcast™, his longest of the season.
"I just rushed to the plate a little bit and then he got ahead in the count," Marquez said through a team translator. "He didn't miss that 3-1 pitch."
All the way home: Besides tying the score in the eighth, Parra saved a run from left field in the fifth to keep it a one-run deficit. On a single by Brandon Crawford, Parra threw a 97.4 mph bullet home to Jonathan Lucroy to beat Denard Span, in motion from second. The assist was Parra's hardest throw tracked by Statcast™ since its debut in 2015.
"That was a heck of a throw," Marquez said. "It gave us the momentum back to save that run. Parra -- that's why he's been a Gold Glover. Twice."
"Whenever you see a teammate get to where he's at right now, with all the hard work, it's not a surprise. It's a great thing to see. I'm really happy for him." -- Gonzalez, on Blackmon becoming the first player in the Majors to reach 200 hits
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: Righty Tyler Chatwood (8-12, 4.57 ERA) starts Wednesday's 1:45 p.m. MST series finale at AT&T Park. Chatwood has been strong against the Giants this season with a 2.25 ERA in four starts.
Giants: Left-hander Matt Moore will make his 30th start of the season when he opposes the Rockies in a 12:45 p.m. PT matinee Wednesday. Moore has endured trouble against the Rockies, posting a 1-3 record and a 9.64 ERA against them in six career starts.