SAN FRANCISCO -– The Beast and the Freak positioned the Giants to take a series-opening victory over the Colorado Rockies.
But it was Friday the 13th, there was a full moon –- and all the real monstrosities came out in the ninth inning.
Sergio Romo allowed four hits, Angel Pagan made a critical mental mistake in center field and manager Bruce Bochy issued an intentional walk that backfired as the Rockies scored five times in the ninth to hand the Giants a 7-4 loss at AT&T Park.
Pagan caught the first out of the inning and threw to third base, even though the lead runner didn’t matter with a two-run advantage. Trail runner Justin Morneau also advanced 90 feet to second base, and Bochy went against the book to issue a walk to Corey Dickerson even though it put the go-ahead run on base.
Romo couldn’t get the double-play grounder to escape the inning and protect Tim Lincecum’s decision. Pinch hitter Ryan Wheeler nearly nipped Romo’s ankles with a two-run single up the middle and D.J. LeMahieu followed with a tie-breaking bloop single to center as Romo blew just his third save attempt in 23 opportunities.
The Rockies had lost 15 of their previous 18 games at AT&T Park and were heading for another after Michael Morse collected a pair of two-out, RBI hits to set up Lincecum for a victory.
Starting pitching report
Lincecum had crisp stuff; a little extra heat on his fastball. And while he’ll never be a pinpoint location guy, he worked ahead more often than behind in the count.
The Rockies managed two runs on three hits in six innings against Lincecum, with all of it coming in the third. The Rockies loaded the bases with one out after two singles and a walk. Lincecum avoided the most dangerous cobra in the basket when Troy Tulowitzki popped up to shortstop. But Justin Morneau hit a clean, two-run single through the right side. Lincecum escaped further damage when Wilin Rosario grounded into a forceout.
That was the first of 10 consecutive set down by Lincecum to end his evening. He didn’t hang many two-strike sliders or changeups while working quickly to get the Giants back to the dugout.
Lincecum allowed just one baserunner outside the third inning, and that came when Tulowitzki walked and advanced on a passed ball in the first.
Lincecum threw 100 pitches and struck out five. The blown save spoiled what would’ve been his first victory over the Rockies since 2012.
Juan Gutierrez (seen, below) worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning and got the first out in the eighth to extend his season-long scoreless streak to 16 innings over 16 home appearances. Jeremy Affeldt and Jean Machi each retired a hitter to deliver the lead to Romo.
Tulowitzki and Morneau singled to start the inning and Rosario showed bunt before hitting his fly out to center. Pagan, perhaps not thinking Morneau would try to tag up, came up firing to third base but pinch runner Charlie Culberson beat the tag as the ball squirted away. Morneau, who was on the move as soon as the ball was in Pagan’s glove, would have made an easy target at second base if the throw had gone there. Pagan shook his head in center field, immediately aware of his mistake.
With first base open, Bochy had Romo walk Dickerson, a hot, left-handed hitter, to load the bases and set up the double play. Rockies manager Walt Weiss sent up Wheeler, the only left-handed hitter on his bench. The Rockies won the matchup and the mental mistakes didn’t end there.
Pagan tried to deke the runners by pretending he had a bead on LeMahieu’s bloop single, but it didn’t work. Then the ball kicked off Pagan’s glove and when he retrieved it, he overthrew the cutoff man, allowing LeMahieu to take second base.
George Kontos entered and allowed an RBI single to Michael McKenry, then the Rockies added one more run on a pickoff between first and second when Ehire Adrianza held onto the ball too long, allowing LeMahieu to score before the tag on McKenry was applied.
At the plate
The Giants have gone a season-high seven games without a home run, but that only makes it more exciting to watch them run the bases.
They rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie in the third inning. Pagan doubled over the head of center fielder Drew Stubbs, then scored ahead of the throw home on Hunter Pence’s single. Pence advanced on a pair of ground outs, and Morse plated him by taking Jorge De La Rosa’s breaking ball to right field for a single.
De La Rosa appeared to injure himself during the inning and was visited by the Rockies’ trainer, but remained in the game and finished the third. He was replaced in the fourth, removed with what the team described as lower back tightness.
Another two-out RBI hit from Morse pushed the Giants ahead in the fifth. Buster Posey beat out an infield single and Morse’s drive to center field escaped Stubbs’ sliding attempt to cut it off. It rolled to the wall, Posey scored without a play and Morse, who intentionally ditched his helmet around first base, caused a frenetic dugout scene when he slid into third base.
“So fast!” Morse appeared to say, as Tim Flannery tried to contain the big hitter’s enthusiasm to ensure he kept a foot on the base. (Dubiously, the play was scored a double and an error.)
It was Morse’s 44th RBI of the season and his 25th with two outs.
The Giants added a run in the seventh when Pence hit a leadoff double and scored on a wild pitch.
They might have enjoyed a blowout win if not for Brandon Hicks, who killed two ralles and struck out in his first three trips. Hicks struck out with runners at second and third and one out in the second inning, which made it all too easy for the Rockies to issue an intentional walk. Lincecum made it interesting, hitting two scary foul balls down the left field line before striking out looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
With De La Rosa looking very uncomfortable on the mound, Hicks got ahead 3-0 before he struck out again to strand two runners in the third.
In 18 games since his last home run May 23, Hicks is batting .127 with 26 strikeouts in 55 at-bats.
Two thoughtless throws, a botched rundown … the Giants were playing a clean sheet before losing all semblance of fundamentals in the ninth.
The Giants announced 41,258 paid. At least the Netherlands enjoyed its version of Orange Friday.
The Giants and Rockies continue their three-game series at AT&T Park on Saturday. Ryan Vogelsong (4-3, 3.84 ERA) takes the mound against Rockies right-hander Christian Bergman (0-1, 3.00). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PDT.
Photo of Juan Gutierrez courtesy of AP.