Early homer stains Chatwood's outing

Early homer stains Chatwood's outing

Early homer stains Chatwood's outing
SAN FRANCISCO -- It's all over but the history for the Rockies.

Wednesday night's 7-1 loss to the National League West-leading Giants was the Rockies' fifth straight and 12th in their last 14 games.

Now the Rockies, who will try Thursday afternoon to avoid being swept in the four-game series, must go 10-4 the rest of the season to avoid exceeding a club-record 95 losses, a number the club finished with during its expansion year of 1993 and later in 2005.

It could be a tall order. Although the Rockies face just one contender in the Dodgers, Sept. 28-30, they've had just one 10-4 stretch this season. That occurred in August.

Unlike many of those recent losses, this one wasn't close. The game was close to over when Pablo Sandoval knocked a first-inning pitch from Tyler Chatwood off the right-field foul pole for a three-run homer.

Chatwood, who didn't give up any more runs and gave up eight total hits in four innings, couldn't feel bad about the homer, Sandoval's ninth of the season.

"It was a back-foot slider, right where it was supposed to be, and he put a good swing on it and kept it fair," Chatwood said.

To hear Sandoval tell it, he swung out of self-preservation. It worked for him and the Giants, who reduced their magic number to five for clinching the NL West over the second-place Dodgers.

"It was low," Sandoval said. "If I didn't hit it, I probably would have gotten hit by that pitch."

The Giants also have beaten the Rockies 13 times this season. The last time they won 14 over one team was 2004, against the D-backs.

Next year, when the Rockies relax what has been a tight pitch count on starters, Chatwood, who struck out two against no walks, will have a chance to battle through more of a game like this and possibly keep the Rockies in position to win. On Wednesday, reliever Adam Ottavino had his second rough outing -- three runs and four hits in the fifth inning.

"Tyler bounced back very nicely," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "The volume of pitches for four innings was not exactly where you want it to be [a season-high 84], however, he battled. He pitched through quite a bit of traffic and put three zeroes up there."

Ottavino has been mostly successful as one of the Rockies' hybrid pitchers, assigned to handle the middle innings. But rough outings in San Diego on Sunday and San Francisco on Wednesday have inflated his ERA from 3.56 to 4.68.

"It could be a little bit of fatigue, and I'm hopeful that between now and the end of the season he has a couple of outings where he does bounce back and feels like the guy that was pitching prior to these last two times," Tracy said. "He has been quite a bright spot for our pitching staff and that bullpen."

Then there was the matter of the Rockies, challenged to score on the road, trying to catch up against one of baseball's best pitchers.

"The game didn't start the way you would have wanted it to when you're facing Matt Cain," Tracy said.

The Rockies were done when Cain forced an infield grounder from Carlos Gonzalez to end the fifth with the bases loaded.

Cain, unbeaten in his last eight starts, went eight innings, struck out eight and held the Rockies to four hits -- two apiece by Chris Nelson and Charlie Blackmon. Nelson is hitting .488 (21-for-43) in his last 11 games.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.