Sept. 18, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARDDENVER (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants headed home with their playoff hopes still alive.Pablo Sandoval homered twice in an eight-run fourth inning, part of a six-home run barrage that led the late-charging Giants over the Colorado Rockies 12-5 Sunday for their eighth straight win.On its longest winning streak since April 2007, San Francisco closed within four games of Atlanta, the NL wild-card leader."We've done what we needed to do," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's obvious we need help. We've got to find a way to get (wins) and see what happens at the end."Pitcher Matt Cain, Mike Fontenot, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford also homered for the Giants, who remained five games back of Arizona in the NL West.The defending World Series champions have nine games left, including three against the Diamondbacks."We feel like we've got a really good shot," Belt said.Cain (12-10) allowed five runs - three earned - five hits, four walks and two hit batters in five innings. He helped himself with two hits, including his first home run since May 13, 2008, against Houston."I never found a rhythm," he said. "I was really working and putting a lot of pressure on myself throughout the five innings."Bochy said he was one batter from taking Cain out in the fifth, but Cain got Tommy Field to hit into an inning-ending double play."He looked like he didn't know how to pitch with a lead like that," Bochy said.In a four-game sweep of the Rockies, the Giants piled up 35 runs and 48 hits. Sandoval led the way with a seven hits, including three homers, in three games. He started the series by hitting for the cycle Thursday and ended it with his second multihomer game this season."What a series he had," Bochy said. "Pretty impressive. Pablo was locked in."Sandoval led off the fourth with a homer to center off Esmil Rogers (6-6). One out later, Belt homered and Crawford doubled. Cain followed with a homer to center.Sandoval ended the rally with his 22nd homer, a drive into the right-field bleachers for 10-1 lead."I said to my teammates, I got the hard ones. We'll see what happens.' When you get the hard ones, it's tough to get the easy ones," Sandoval said. "I wasn't thinking about the cycle, you just want to get a pitch to drive the guy in. I got a good pitch, and I hit a home run."Fontenot had given the Giants a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the first.Colorado scored twice each in the fourth and fifth innings to close the gap, but a solo homer by Crawford helped the Giants stay comfortably ahead.Ty Wigginton and Seth Smith had two hits each for Colorado, which has lost five of six.Rogers allowed nine runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings, dropping to 0-4 with a 7.81 ERA since winning three straight starts in late July and early August."The ball was very true going through the strike zone and somewhere between belt and mid-thigh area," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "When you do that, you're going to get hit by good big league hitters. That's exactly what happened."NOTES: The Giants activated closer Brian Wilson from the 15-day DL. ... The previous San Francisco player to homer twice in the same inning was Juan Uribe last Sept. 23 against the Chicago Cubs. ... The last time the Giants hit four home runs in one inning was Aug. 23, 1961, at Cincinnati. They last hit six homers in one game Aug. 7, 2006, at Arizona. ... The Giants open a three-game home series against the Dodgers on Tuesday. Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum will face Clayton Kershaw in the opener. ... Colorado finishes its home schedule with a three-game series against San Diego starting Monday.
DENVER — Bruce Bochy watched the first two games of this road trip from his home in San Diego and the final three from the top step of the dugout at Coors Field. He did not like what he saw, but at the moment he’s more concerned with what he might hear.
“What you have to careful of — you can’t let any kind of complacency set in and say, ‘It’s early, we’ll be ok.’ I don’t want to hear that either,” Bochy said. “It’s the old adage that you come out with some sense of urgency. All these games are important. You’ve got to stay away from that attitude, too: ‘We’re not through April yet and have 140-something games left.’ That doesn’t work out.”
Three weeks into the season, nothing is working. The rotation has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the Majors. The lineup scored 10 runs over a five-game road trip and got shut out twice. The bullpen hasn’t been given many leads with which to make up for the first-week trouble. The defense has been uncharacteristically sloppy.
It has added up to a 6-13 start, tied for the worst in club history. The Giants have lost six of seven and they’ll head home seven games out of first place.
“Right now there’s nothing clicking,” Bochy said. “Let’s be honest, this has been a rough start and we’re not very good right now. I’m not saying we’re not very good. We are good, but we’ve got to find a way to come out of this. This was a tough way to end this series. We’ve been through it. I’ve got men out there and that’s when you find a way to get through this. They will.”
Perhaps Monday will bring some fresh blood for the roster. Drew Stubbs appears poised to give the Giants another veteran option should they cut bait with a struggling outfielder. Michael Morse could be an option in left field soon, and if he’s mostly relegated to first, the Giants can put Brandon Belt in the outfield. He looked fine there Sunday while playing both corner spots.
Those are moves made around the edges of the roster, though. There is no magic bullet coming from the outside, not even Christian Arroyo, who continues to mash at Triple-A. This is a $200 million roster and much of that has been spent on the rotation. Through 13 games, it is the worst in the National League, and the ace was lost to an off-field accident. Sure, the starters have pitched at Chase Field and Coors Field, but on back-to-back days they were dominated by Rockies rookies who make a living here.
Samardzija could not keep pace with left-hander Kyle Freeland, who sawed off a handful of bats while cruising through seven. Samardzjiza gave up a run early, two more in the fourth on a hanging splitter that was blasted to right, and five in the sixth.
Bochy challenged his starting staff to improve after Saturday’s game. He has not publicly done the same with the lineup, but subtle changes have been made here and there. It is a group that, outside of a couple of players, has lacked energy. Because they don’t hit for power, the Giants are reliant on stringing together rallies. For the fourth time in seven games, the lineup failed to put a runner on base the first time through the order.
“Even in spring training we had our games where we had trouble getting something going early,” Bochy said. “It’s the fourth or fifth before a hit. Somehow, we’ve got to change that.”
The Giants played Sunday without Jarrett Parker (clavicle) and Denard Span (right shoulder sprain), but for the most part the lineup is healthy. Bochy said he has talked to hitting coach Hensley Meulens about possibly altering pre-game routines, but that seems a cosmetic fix.
“We’ve talked and we’ve shaken up the lineup, but as you saw today, there’s only so much you can do,” he said.
Bochy knows there is outside noise regarding the roster. His eyes bulged the other day when asked if Arroyo would get a call-up next week. The Giants do not feel he is quite ready, or that there is a spot for him on the infield. For all the potential bench options waiting at Triple-A, this team's core is set, and it’s not outrageously banged-up compared to the rest of the division.
The Dodgers, who come into town Monday, have 10 players on the disabled list, including No. 2 starter Rich Hill, second baseman Logan Forsythe, and left fielder Andre Ethier. The Rockies, the best team in the NL West thus far, are off to this start without big offseason acquisition Ian Desmond and young slugger David Dahl. Jon Gray, their opening day starter, went on the DL after facing the Giants in San Francisco. Chad Bettis, a rotation member, is getting treatment for testicular cancer.
This division is better than expected, and as the end of April approaches, the Giants are bringing up the rear. Bochy’s plea for urgency was one that would have fit right in with last season’s second half. Back then, the Giants could at least lean on a huge start that got them into the postseason. As they flew home Sunday, there was nothing to fall back on but a simple truth.
This is the team. It must play better.
“We have everything we need in this room,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes you need to go out on the field and prove it.”
DENVER — Bruce Bochy spent about 10 minutes before Sunday’s game talking about potential options in left field and center. The problems for this lineup, however, currently go much deeper than the outfield.
A day after the Giants managed just four hits off Antonio Senzatela, the bats went completely limp against fellow Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland. The Giants were shut out 8-0, a rarity at Coors Field. They were blanked twice on the road trip and scored just 10 runs during a five-game swing through Kansas City and Denver.
The sweep at Coors Field was the Giants' first since 2002. At 6-13, they have the worst record in the National League.
For the fourth time in seven games, and third time on this five-game road trip, the Giants went one time through the order without a baserunner. That puts added pressure on your starter, and Jeff Samardzija couldn’t keep it close. Charlie Blackmon hit a leadoff liner to right that was misplayed into a triple and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Gerardo Parra got a spinner down in the zone in the fourth and blasted a two-run shot to right.
As they did Saturday night, the Rockies pulled away with a huge rally. Nolan Arenado’s infield single and a walk of Carlos Gonzalez set the table in the sixth. Gerardo Parra lined a single to center and all runners advanced when Gorkys Hernandez kicked it. Trevor Story’s single to right was bobbled by Hunter Pence and two more scored. Blackmon’s double made it 8-0.
Starting pitching report: Samardzija was charged with seven earned in 5 1/3 innings. He has a 7.40 ERA through four starts. The starting staff has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the majors. That won’t play, not when you’ve spent most of your resources the last two years on starters.
Bullpen report: Hunter Strickland's Mullet had a scoreless debut.
At the plate: Nope.
In the field: Brandon Belt’s first start in left this season was rather uneventful. He caught a liner right at him in the first and came up inches short on a diving attempt in foul territory. Belt moved to right in the seventh inning. He had one previous inning there in the big leagues but he actually prefers right because it’s the same angle as his normal position. Belt gloved a liner right at him in the eighth.
Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 42,011 human beings and one donkey, who was a menace.
Up next: The first look at the Dodgers. The Giants will see Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and likely Julio Urias in the four-game series.