Sept. 15, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARDDENVER (AP) -- When Pablo Sandoval saw Carlos Gonzalez crash into the wall he knew he had a chance at history, so he turned on his afterburners."When I saw him fall down, that's when I started running hard," Sandoval said. "Halfway between first and second that's when I thought I had a chance to make it."Sandoval slid headfirst into third base with a triple to complete the first cycle of his career and the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 8-5 on Thursday night to keep their slim postseason hopes alive.The Giants have won five straight and prevented Arizona from moving closer to clinching the NL West. The Diamondbacks lead the Giants by seven games with 12 to play."We've got a chance," Sandoval said. "You never know what's going to happen."Sandoval did his part to keep the Giants alive with his career night. He homered in the first, doubled in the second and singled in the fifth. He said he wasn't thinking about the cycle when San Francisco came to bat in the sixth.The rest of the team knew what he needed."I was rubbing his legs saying, 'Hey, I've got to get these things loose for a triple,'" manager Bruce Bochy said. "He said, 'Nah, I'm not even thinking about it.' Sure enough he hit the perfect ball. It's a great game for Pablo. It's quite a feat."Sandoval is the 25th Giant to hit for the cycle and the first since Fred Lewis accomplished the feat May 13, 2007, also at Coors Field. It is the 10th cycle recorded at Coors Field.The four hits all came against starter Jhoulys Chacin (11-12)."He hit everything I threw," Chacin said. "He hit a homer with a fastball, the base hit was a changeup. (The double) was off the plate and down and he just put the bat on it and he hit it to the other side. It was his night."It was all starter Ryan Vogelsong needed to end a personal five-game losing streak. Vogelsong pitched effectively into the sixth inning and had two hits."I wouldn't get too excited about those two hits, but I'll take them," he said.The Giants gave him an early lead to work with thanks to Sandoval's bat and poor fielding by the Rockies.San Francisco went ahead 2-0 in the first when Carlos Beltran singled with two outs and Sandoval homered into the second deck in right, his 20th.The Giants used two Colorado errors to extend the lead in the second. Brandon Crawford scored on a throwing error by shortstop Tommy Field. Jeff Keppinger hit a sacrifice fly and Jordan Pacheco misplayed Beltran's grounder at first, allowing Cody Ross to score from second to make it 5-0.The Rockies got one back in the third when Chacin scored from third on Mark Ellis' single. Pacheco made it 5-2 when he led off the fourth with his second home run.San Francisco made it 7-2 in the sixth on an RBI double by Ross, who scored on a double play grounder by Beltran."It was great to jump on top like that," Vogelsong said. "Definitely takes some of the pressure off."Vogelsong (11-7) allowed two runs and four hits, walked four and struck out eight in 5 2-3 innings.Santiago Casilla pitched the ninth for his fourth save.Colorado scored three runs in the seventh on Chris Iannetta's 13th homer and RBI doubles by Chris Nelson and Eric Young Jr.Brandon Belt led off the ninth with his sixth homer to make it 8-5.Chacin gave up seven runs - four earned - and nine hits, walked four and struck out one in 5 2-3 innings.Notes: Sandoval is the second player to hit for the cycle this season. Milwaukee catcher George Kottaras did it against Houston on Sept. 3. ... Gonzalez left the game in the seventh after aggravating his right wrist on Sandoval's triple. ... Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki (hip) and 1B Todd Helton (back tightness) missed their second straight game. ... Giants closer Brian Wilson (right elbow strain) threw a side session Thursday. ... Left-hander Madison Bumgarner will face Colorado rookie right-hander Alex White on Friday in the second game of the four-game series. Bumgarner is 0-3 in five starts against the Rockies while White has never faced the Giants.
BELT RIVER FIELDS, Ariz. — Earlier this spring, Brandon Belt moved his schedule around so he could get additional at-bats. That led to some random trips across the desert, but there was never any doubt Belt would be in Friday’s road lineup.
Belt demolishes the ball at Salt River Fields, spring home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. After coming out of Friday’s win, he shook his head in mock disgust when talking about the day’s stats.
“One for four, you’ve gotta be kidding me,” Belt said. “That’s terrible.”
That one happened to be a homer, a three-run shot off Jon Gray, the likely opening day starter for the Rockies. Belt thought he crushed the ball but it ended up pretty high, so it simply dropped onto the berm in right.
“It squeaked out,” Belt said. “Good mojo, I guess.”
The mojo kept his remarkable run going at Salt River. His updated career stats here: 22 for 35, with eight homers, four doubles, one triple and 18 RBI. Belt said he’s not quite sure why he turns into the flames emoji every time he steps onto this field.
“I don’t know what it is, but I like hitting here,” he said. “Maybe it’s the batter’s eye?”
Salt River has a dark green batter’s eye with no distractions on either side, and the Giants certainly saw the ball well Friday. They had seven straight hits in the third before Gray was pulled with a sore foot. Belt hit second, and manager Bruce Bochy said that wasn’t simply because Joe Panik had the day off. Bochy will look at several different lineup permutations over the next week, and a Span/Belt/Pence/Posey/Crawford one-through-five is one option.
“I like (that spot) a lot,” Belt said. “I feel good getting started and knowing I’ll get to bat in the first inning. It’s a good spot. I don’t think my approach changes that much: Get a pitch to hit and try to hit it hard.”
GAME RECAP: Jeff Samardzija was sharp in four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. He threw about 45 pitches on the field and then went down to the bullpen for 45 more. Samardzija certainly benefited from having Buster Posey back in the lineup. He said Posey noticed during warmups that Samardzija’s delivery was a little flat and his arm was dragging too low.
“That doesn’t happen often,” Samardzija said of having a guy like Posey back there. “You have a lot of catchers who are afraid to say something.”
The rest of this one was a laugher until the ninth, when the Rockies rallied and brought the winning run to the plate. It hasn’t been a great spring for the bullpen.
STOCK WATCH: Chris Marrero hit a deep homer, his seventh of the spring. He also made a nice pick at first, where he looks much more comfortable. At this point, it appears it’s either Marrero or Kelby Tomlinson for that final bench spot.
TRAINER’S ROOM: The news on Will Smith was as expected. He will have Tommy John surgery next week.
There is good news for Trevor Brown: The catcher, who has a sore ankle, took some swings and he’s feeling much better. Brown did not, as first reported, get hurt hiking on an off day. It happened during a game. Brown won’t be ready in time to return to Cactus League action, so he’ll likely stay here during the Bay Bridge Series and then travel home with Triple-A Sacramento.
ICYMI: Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Mark Melancon are back in camp. Here’s a story on Posey’s WBC experience, with the catcher saying he’d like to play again in four years. Here’s Crawford on his month, which ended with him giving an NL West rival a slump-busting bat.
ROSTER UPDATE: The Giants released David Hernandez, at his request. They have started to tell others that they’re not making the opening day roster, so there should be a series of minor transactions this weekend. (You know where to go.)
QUOTABLE: "I swung at a heater and a slider went right into my bat. I was happy to be able to track (pitches), and happy that the next time the bunt didn't go off my beautiful face." -- Samardzija, when asked about his double off the wall.
Chris Sale traded socks (AP) -- or Sox - from white to red. Edwin Encarnacion took his big bat to Cleveland. Aroldis Chapman returned to the Bronx.
Plenty of All-Stars, Cy Young winners and MVPs are wearing new uniforms this season.
The biggest move occurred when the Boston Red Sox acquired Sale from the Chicago White Sox. The five-time All-Star left-hander left a team that hasn't reached the playoffs since 2008 for one that's won three World Series titles since 2004.
Encarnacion left Toronto for the team that beat the Blue Jays in last year's ALCS. He averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs over the past five seasons in Toronto and gives the Indians a major boost.
Chapman is back in New York after spending the first half of last season with the Yankees before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs and helped them win the World Series.
Here's a 25-man roster of familiar faces in different places this season:
1. CF: Dexter Fowler. Jumped from World Series champion Cubs to rival St. Louis. Gives the Cardinals stability atop the batting order.
2. RF: Adam Eaton. Traded from White Sox to defending NL East champion Nationals. He'll play center field in Washington between Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper.
3. DH: Kendrys Morales. Joined Blue Jays to help fill Encarnacion's void after spending past two seasons with the Royals.
4. 1B: Encarnacion.
5. C: Brian McCann. Traded from Yankees to Astros, giving Houston's stacked lineup another slugger.
6. SS: Ian Desmond. Returns to NL to join Rockies after one season playing outfield in Texas. He'll play first base for Colorado, but he's back at shortstop on this squad.
7. LF: Matt Holliday. Signed with Yankees following 7 1/2 seasons in St. Louis. The seven-time All-Star will likely DH in New York though he'll see some action in left field.
8. 2B: Brandon Phillips. Waived no-trade clause to go to rebuilding Braves after 11 seasons with Reds.
9. 3B: Howie Kendrick. Comes east after spending his entire career in Los Angeles - nine seasons with Angels and last two with Dodgers. Kendrick is playing left field for Philadelphia but he starts at third to fill this lineup.
1B: Chris Carter. Landed with Yankees after swatting 41 homers for Milwaukee last season to tie for NL lead.
INF: Jimmy Rollins. Former NL MVP is trying to land a roster spot with San Francisco as a utility man after playing all but one-third inning of his 17-year career at shortstop. Has bounced from Dodgers to White Sox to Giants after 15 seasons in Philadelphia.
OF: Michael Saunders. All-Star for Blue Jays last season and will start in right field for Phillies.
OF: Carlos Beltran. Returns to Houston after spending half the 2004 season with the Astros and hitting eight postseason homers for them.
C: Matt Wieters. Left Baltimore for Washington to replace All-Star Wilson Ramos, who joined Tampa Bay and is still recovering from knee surgery.
Edinson Volquez. Goes from Royals to Marlins.
Jaime Garcia. Lefty joins Braves after eight seasons in St. Louis.
Jered Weaver. Stays in California, switching to Padres after 11 seasons with Angels.
R.A. Dickey. Knuckleballer returns to NL East after four seasons in Toronto. One of two 40-plus former Cy Young award winners signed by Braves.
Bartolo Colon. Other veteran Braves signed to bolster rotation. He'll be long man on this staff.
Mark Melancon. Signed with Giants after finishing last season in Washington.
Sergio Romo. Went from San Francisco to rival Dodgers.
Wade Davis. Traded from Royals to Cubs to replace Chapman.
Santiago Casilla. Stays in Bay Area, going from Giants to A's.