By the time Josh Rutledge came to bat for the third time in the sixth inning, he was 0 for 2, had struck-out, and made somewhat a fool of himself with a show-boating back-pedal on a first-inning Hunter Pence pop-up that fell a good 15 feet beyond him as Carlos Gonzalez watched with a “what the?” look on his face. But with one out in the sixth Rutledge lifted Madison Bumgarner’s third pitch, an 84 MPH change-up, into the left-center-field seats to put the Rockies on the scoreboard. Rutledge is emblematic of about all the Rockies have going for them in 2012, a preview of the next wave of young prospects to tantalize the Coors Field party crowd. Regrettably, none of them seem to be pitchers.
The web Colorado left-hander Jeff Francis had been weaving since his mid-June acquisition continued to unravel Saturday night. Francis delivered the third ineffective outing of his last four, surrendering 6 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks in a brief 3 2/3 inning appearance. Angel Pagan had grounded a single just out of Rutledge’s reach to open the game but was erased when Ryan Theriot bounced into a 4-6-3 double-play. Unimpressed by that bit of fortune, Francis proceeded to walk Melky Cabrera in front of a 420 foot Buster Posey moonshot into the left-center-field bleachers, moving the San Francisco Giants ahead 2-0 prior to Colorado’s first at-bat. Cabrera made it 3-0 in the third with a similar blow, further into the stands but pulled to left-field. Then in the fourth Francis struck-out lead-off hitter Pence, but former Rockie Marco Scutaro lined a single to center and moved-around to third when Brett Pill grounded one up the middle and advanced to second on a failed attempt to nab Scutaro. Shortstop Joaquin Arias then drove-in Scutaro with another ground single, this one to left, Pill advancing to third. The Rockies then nailed Pill at the plate on a fielder’s choice back to Francis, leaving themselves a chance to avert further damage. Alas, when you’re bad you’re bad. Pagan delivered his second single, a liner that plated Arias. Theriot next joined the hit-parade, loading the bases. Bumgarner scored on a walk to Cabrera, and Francis exited, toting with him loss no. 4 of 2012.
Josh Roenicke came-on for Francis and continued his good work, closing-out out the fourth then handling the fifth and sixth without notable incident. He ran into a bit of flack in the seventh when Pence reached on a Rutledge error and Scutaro singled, and was relieved by Edgmer Escalona (you remember Edgmer), who got lucky when Arias scalded a line-drive directly at Rutledge, doubling Pence off second and ending the threat.
Escalona had been recalled earlier in the day, along with first-baseman Matt McBride, who recorded his first major-league hit with a single in the fifth. Christian Friedrich and Michael Cuddyer were placed on the 15-day Disabled List, Friedrich out for the year with a vertebra stress fracture in his lower back, Cuddyer expected to return from an oblique strain. McBride helped the Rockies climb back into it in the seventh with a double that drove-in catcher Ramon Hernandez, on with the first of his two doubles. McBride scored on a Jonny Herrera single, bringing Colorado to within 3, but Escalona couldn’t sustain the fortune and the Giants roared-back with 4 in the eighth to push the contest out-of-reach, 10-3.
The Rockies answered with 2 in the bottom of the eighth, and matched a ninth-inning San Francisco run with one of their own, but fell well-short, losing their seventh out of eight on the current homestand. The Giants maintain their half-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West, and picked-up a game on the Diamondbacks, who lost in Philadelphia 3-0. San Francisco will look to sweep when the two teams tee it back-up tomorrow afternoon, sending two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum up against a yet to be determined Rockie. Game time at Coors Field is 1:10 pm MDT.