SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Carlos Gonzalez could have let the ball drop and watched Hunter Pence end the game with a hit. Instead, with the Rockies playing five infielders, Gonzalez ran down a difficult fly ball in center field and Pence had a sacrifice fly.
Colorado is in contention, and Gonzalez is committed to going hard and hustling until the final out to prove these Rockies should be a playoff team.
Charlie Blackmon had a two-run double in the second inning for his first career 200-hit season, but Colorado couldn’t hold its early lead and lost 4-3 to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.
The Rockies’ lead over the Brewers for the second NL wild card dropped to one game after Milwaukee won at Pittsburgh.
“Right now is not a good time to just sit and complain or cry about a game that you end up losing,” Gonzalez said. “You’ve got to move forward. You’ve got to keep your head up. We’re still in the postseason if the season finished today, so we’re in the driver’s seat. The guys behind you are the ones putting pressure. They have more pressure than us.”
Pence hit a game-ending sacrifice fly with Colorado playing a five-man infield, and Gonzalez made an outstanding diving catch.
“In that situation, I think it was easier for me to just don’t hustle and let him get a hit,” Gonzalez said. “Even if I make the catch, which I did, it wasn’t going to be enough to avoid the loss but I think it’s one of those things you keep playing hard, keep showing your teammates no matter what the circumstance is you’ve just got to keep playing ball.”
Pence followed up his two-run homer in the fifth as San Francisco grabbed the opener of a short two-game series between NL West opponents.
“Every one of these games matters a lot,” Pence said.
Pablo Sandoval singled leading off the ninth against Chris Rusin (5-1), and Orlando Calixte entered to pinch run. Ryder Jones followed with a bunt single and Kelby Tomlinson singled to load the bases for Pence.
Gerardo Parra hit a tying double in the eighth for Colorado, which missed a chance in the ninth.
Pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds hit a two-out infield single off Sam Dyson (3-2), then pinch-runner Mike Tauchman stole second. Blackmon was intentionally walked and DJ LeMahieu grounded out.
Buster Posey hit a one-out double in the eighth off Pat Neshek before second baseman LeMahieu made a beautiful, diving stop of Brandon Crawford’s hard grounder and a tough throw to first for the out. Jarrett Parker flied out.
Blackmon became the eighth Rockies player with a 200-hit season, which has been done nine times overall by the franchise — twice by Todd Helton.
Giants starter Johnny Cueto struck out six and walked four over 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits.
Colorado put the tying run on third in the eighth after Gonzalez’s one-out double, then Hunter Strickland gave up Parra’s double on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
German Marquez’s winless stretch reached six starts for the Rockies — he’s 0-3 during that span — since he beat Milwaukee on Aug. 18.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy expects to have Cueto as a key member of his 2018 rotation, yet Cueto has the chance to opt out after this season and become a free agent as part of the $130 million, six-year contract he signed before last season.
This could have been Cueto’s final home start. He is scheduled to have two more turns in the rotation, though that could always change.
“I plan on Johnny being back, that’s how I think,” Bochy said. “I’m optimistic. From what I know and what I hear, Johnny likes it here.”
Giants: RHP Mark Melancon, who had surgery Sept. 12 in his forearm to cut fibrous tissue from the pronator, will begin rehab within the next week and plans to begin his offseason throwing routine on schedule in mid-December. “As far as his throwing, it should be a normal offseason,” athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said. While Dyson has been a reliable ninth-inning option, Bochy plans to use Melancon as the closer starting 2018. The Giants signed him to a $62 million, four-year contract to handle that role. “When we acquired Mark, we got him to close games,” Bochy said.
RHP Tyler Chatwood (8-12, 4.57 ERA) pitches for the Rockies looking to improve on his 2-0 mark with a 2.25 ERA this season facing the Giants. He will face Matt Moore (5-14, 5.39) as the lefty tries for his first win vs. Colorado after going 0-2 in three outings.
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