Trailing 4-0 after an inning and a half Monday night, things could not have looked more bleak for the San Francisco. But with their backs up against the wall, the Giants’ bats responded with a flourish, erupting for six runs in the second inning en route to a 10-6 victory over the Rockies.
Colorado struck early and often in the first against Giants’ starter Jonathan Sanchez. Kazuo Matsui got the ball rolling with a leadoff walk, which would prove costly because long time nemesis made the Giants’ pay, raking a RBI double into the right field corner. Garrett Atkins the Rockies best hitter this season followed with what looked like a routine grounder to third baseman Pedro Feliz. Feliz fielded the ball cleanly and it looked like he was going to get the out at first, but his throw sailed past Shea Hillenbrand, allowing Helton to score, and Atkins was safe at second. One out later, Jeff Baker lined a single to left, bringing home Atkins and the Rockies jumped in front 3-0.
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Chris Iannetta cracked his first big league homer, a solo shot to left in the second inning, and things were not looking good for San Francisco, because they had dug themselves an early 4-0 hole.
The Giants’ offense came to life with a vengeance again in the bottom half of the second. As has been the case so often this year, a Barry Bonds free pass to lead off the inning helped spark the rally. After Ray Durham walked and Moises Alou reached on an error to load the bases, Feliz atoned for his miscue in the first, scorching a two-run double to left off of Rockies starter Denny Bautista. The damage was far from over. Following a walk to Sanchez and a grounder to the pitcher that brought home Alou, Omar Vizquel and Hillenbrand delivered consecutive RBI doubles knocking in three more runs, as San Francisco roared back to grab a 6-4 lead.
Armed with a new lease on life thanks to the offensive outburst, Sanchez settled into a nice little rhythm retiring eight of the next nine batters he faced before running into trouble in the fifth. With two outs, Sanchez plunked Atkins with a pitch and walked Matt Holliday, setting the table for Baker. Baker would sting Sanchez and the Giants’ once again, this time drilling a ground rule double over the wall in right to drive in Atkins pulling the Rockies within 6-5.
That marked the end of the night for Sanchez, and manager Felipe Alou summoned Kevin Correia to try and get out of the jam. Sanchez had his roughest outing as a pro lasting just 4 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and four earned runs.
Having entered the game in a tight spot with runners on second and third, Correia was able to stop the bleeding, getting Troy Tulowitzski to line out to second ending the inning. Correia (2-0) turned in another outstanding outing, shutting down the Rockies for 3 1/3 innings to pick up the win.
Randy Winn launched a solo homer into the left field bleachers in the seventh, increasing the Giants’ advantage to 7-5.
San Francisco kept pouring it on in the eighth. Following a walk to Durham, Moises Alou brought him home with a double to right. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle would then call on reliever Jose Mesa to face Pedro Feliz. Feliz welcomed Mesa into the game by singling to left, plating Fred Lewis, who had come on as a pinch runner for Alou. Omar Vizquel added a RBI groundout to bring home Feliz and put the Giants’ comfortably ahead 10-5.
Not all the news was good for San Francisco though. Reliever Vinnie Chulk, who has been one of the most dependable arms in the bullpen since he was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in July, had to leave the game in the ninth with an apparent groin injury.
Mike Stanton replaced Chulk and gave up a RBI double to Matsui bringing the Rockies a little closer at 10-6. Stanton would shut the door from there, getting Helton to ground out, and the striking out Atkins swinging to end the game.
With the win and the Padres loss to the Reds, the Giants’ pulled to within 1.5 games of San Diego for the Wild Card lead. San Francisco also picked up a game on the division leading Dodgers and they are now three games back in the NL West.
Noah Lowry will be looking to keep the momentum going tonight when he returns to the mound for the first time in 12 days. Lowry (7-8, 4.00 ERA) will take on Rockies right-hander Jason Jennings (7-12, 3.48 ERA) @ 7:15 pm.
SFDugout’s Player of the Game: There are plenty of candidates, but the nod goes to Kevin Correia. Correia got out of a big jam in the fifth, and went on to shut down the Rockies for 3 1/3 hitless innings.