Rockies' spirited bats nearly catch Giants

Rockies' spirited bats nearly catch Giants

Rockies' spirited bats nearly catch Giants
DENVER -- Tuesday night's 9-8 loss to the National League West-leading Giants was a wet, slippery step on the last-place Rockies' road to oblivion, yet manager Jim Tracy saw signs of a bright future.

This strange contest played mostly in rain began with the Rockies taking a 4-0 lead but turned the other way once Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner tied the game with a three-run homer in the fourth. Brandon Belt drove in two runs on a double and another with his sixth homer of the year, and the Giants entered the ninth with a three-run lead.

However, Rockies pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin swatted his 18th homer of the season, a two-run shot off Sergio Romo, with two out in the ninth. The Giants needed Javier Lopez to work Jason Giambi into a soft, looping fly ball into short left field to finally make the Rockies go away.

The Rockies (58-84) have to play well to avoid reaching the club record for losses in a season -- 95 in the expansion year of 1993 and 2005. Still, the Rockies believe their offense is a winning one. Jordan Pacheco and Chris Nelson had three hits each and the Rockies finished with 17 -- the most in a loss since they had 20 while falling to the Phillies on Sept. 2, 2010.

"That's a terrific effort by our young people," Tracy said. "I personally think the outcome could have been a little different, too.

"The effort was tremendous. We did our fair share of hitting tonight. We took some good at-bats and we took some youthful at-bats."

The Giants (80-62), who extended their lead over the second-place Dodgers to six games, avenged Monday's 6-5 loss to the Rockies.

"We have our hands full," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "This was a hard-fought game, a typical Coors Field game, but we held on and got that last out."

Of course, Tuesday served as a reminder that the Rockies will have to pitch better to even think about a turnaround in 2013. Jhoulys Chacin, whose return from a nerve issue in his chest has brought optimism, had his first short outing since he came back to the club in August. Actually, however, Chacin can trace much of the damage -- four runs and six hits in four innings -- to just one pitch.

Chacin gave up two hits and no runs in the first three innings. But three of the first four Giants hitters reached on singles in the fourth. One of them, Gregor Blanco, reached when the wind blew down his floater right in front of Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. Nelson dove to stop Brandon Crawford's hard grounder for a force at third, but Bumgarner sent Chacin's 1-2 fastball into the left-field seats to tie the game.

The Rockies scored four runs on 11 hits in just 4 1/3 innings against Bumgarner, but his bat erased much of that damage.

"I was trying to throw a fastball down and away, and that ball just ran back to the middle," said Chacin, who had doubled off Bumgarner in the third inning. "I know he's a good hitter. In the big leagues, whoever is hitting, if you miss your spot, you make your mistake, they'll take advantage of that. It was a really bad pitch to him."

Giants reliever George Kontos (2-1) entered with two on in the fifth and struck out DJ LeMahieu and relief pitcher Carlos Torres (4-2) to stop the Rockies' momentum.

Belt's two-run double came in the fifth against Torres, who also gave up an Angel Pagan RBI triple in a two-run sixth. Pagan's 12 triples tie him with Willie Mays (1960) and Steve Finley (2006) for the Giants' single-season San Francisco record.

Belt added his sixth homer of the season in the seventh off Edgmer Escalona, which proved crucial. Carlos Gonzalez singled home a run in the eighth before Colvin's homer in the ninth.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.