Francis' rough first inning too much for Rockies

Francis' rough first inning too much for Rockies

Francis' rough first inning too much for Rockies
DENVER -- The first inning has brought Jeff Francis plenty of trouble this season but nothing like he experienced Wednesday. This went beyond a mere pitfall and getting nicked for a run or two.

Francis gave up five runs in the first, a season high for that inning. Against Tim Lincecum and an armada of formidable Giants relievers, there was no escape from that early hole. The Giants beat the Rockies, 8-3, to win the rubber game of their three-game series and send the Rockies to their seventh loss in the past eight games and eighth in their past 10.

"The first inning got us tonight, simply put," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "The opposition had five runs and six hits before we put a bat in our hands."

Francis has allowed first-inning runs in 12 of his 20 starts. His previous first-inning high was four runs against the Cardinals on July 31. He has allowed 26 runs in the first, by far his worst inning, and no more than nine in any other inning.

"They came out ready to swing," Francis said. "It wasn't anything about me not feeling good or not trying to be aggressive. I made some mistakes, they hit them. I made some [decent] pitches; they hit them. That turns into a long inning and keeps you from going deeper in the game than you'd like to."

Francis lasted a season-low three innings and threw 78 pitches, including 37 in the first when the Giants went on the attack. Compounding matters for Francis, three of the five runs scored with two outs as he worked his way down to the bottom of the Giants' lineup.

Gregor Blanco began the game with a triple to right-center. Marco Scutaro followed with a run-scoring single and went to third on Buster Posey's single. Francis got an out on a fielder's choice, but Joaquin Arias singled home a run. With two out, Hector Sanchez drove in a run with a single, and No. 8 hitter Brandon Crawford lined a two-run double to right. Both hits came on 1-2 curveballs

"The one to Sanchez was a half-decent pitch," Francis said. "I think he had his back foot off the ground when he hit it. But the ball to Crawford was just a hanging curveball, and he put a good swing on it."

The Rockies got a run back in the first when Carlos Gonzalez walked with two out, moved up on Lincecum's balk and scored on Wilin Rosario's single. Rosario homered with one out in the third. It was his 24th homer, tying him with Troy Tulowitzki in 2007 for the second-most homers by a Rockies rookie.

Rosario is just one homer shy of tying the Rockies' record of 25 home runs by a rookie set by Todd Helton in 1998. Rosario came close to matching Helton and hitting a two-run homer in the seventh when he sent Blanco running to the wall in straightaway center to make a catch.

Scutaro, whom the Rockies traded to the Giants for a Minor League infielder on July 27, singled home a run with two out in the sixth to put the Giants ahead 6-2.

The Rockies matched that run in their half of the sixth when Chris Nelson singled with one out and scored when pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon lined a double into the right-field corner. It was the eighth hit in 15 at-bats for Blackmon, who had six hits in his first 43 at-bats after being called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Aug. 18.

That was the last inning for Lincecum, who struck out eight but walked four and threw 108 pitches. He won for the 10th time in his past 15 starts. After he left, seven relievers combined to work the final three innings. Giants manager Bruce Bochy also used seven relievers Tuesday as his team won, 9-8.

"The way they're constructed now in the month of September, they have a pitcher for every hitter," Tracy said. "And their manager does a masterful job of handling the different situations to negate any kind of competitive advantage that we can try to create for ourselves due to matchups. It's almost impossible to do with the number of quality arms that they have down in their bullpen."

The Giants, who are 10-4 against the Rockies this season and last lost a series to them when they were swept in two games May 16-17, 2011, added two more runs in the ninth off Josh Roenicke. Guillermo Mota took the mound for the Giants in the bottom of the inning. He gave up a single to Dexter Fowler and struck out Josh Rutledge. Left-hander Javier Lopez got Gonzalez to ground out, and Bochy, leaving nothing to chance, brought on closer Sergio Romo, who struck out Rosario to end the game.

"We all know this ballpark," Bochy said. "Last night, they mounted a pretty good comeback. There's no safe lead here. A three-run save is a little different in this ballpark. That's respect to their team and this ballpark. You don't want to get a rally going here, because when momentum gets going, it's hard to stop."

Jack Etkin is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.