Backed by dazzling defensive plays from Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon in the eighth inning the Colorado Rockies (6-2) bullpen continued their lockdown pitching performances in a 4-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants (3-6) on Tuesday night at AT&T Park.
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When new general manager Jeff Bridich set out to assemble his first Rockies roster in the offseason he reasoned that for a team playing 81 home games at Coors Field to be successful it would need a strong bullpen to back up a weary starting rotation. So far that success has come on the road with a franchise best 5-0 road winning streak to begin the season.
In relief of Christian Bergman (1-0, 0.00) who was making a spot start in place of the rehabbing Jorge De La Rosa, the Rockies bullpen allowed just a run on two hits over five innings. Scott Oberg (1-0, 0.00) picked up the win in his first major league game while Adam Ottavino (0.00) struck out the side in the ninth for his first save.
"I just wanted to make sure I was ready in any situation to just do the best I could, help the team as much as I could," Oberg said. "I think I was a little more nervous in the bullpen, warming up. Being out on the mound, (Rockies catcher Nick) Hundley was able to make sure I enjoyed it and threw strikes. Tulo came out there and said the same thing. That reassured things."
Rockies relievers have combined for a 1.80 ERA this season with opposing batters batting a paltry .146.
The Rockies made two outstanding defensive plays in the eighth inning that shut down a Giants rally. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Gregor Blanco (.214, 1-for-4) hit a flyball into foul territory on the third base side. Arenado chased down the flyball and caught it just before crashing into the tarp roller and flipping into the wall. Kneeling on the tarp Arenado threw the ball back into third in an attempt to catch the advancing Angel Pagan (.333, 3-for-4) from second. Arenado escaped with just a sore left leg.
"I don't know if I have ever seen a better play than that," manager Walt Weiss said. "And then he gets the throw off after that? He goes into the stands and almost doubles the guy off. Our defense has been really good, and that's about as good as it gets."
The Giants would push a run across against Rafael Betancourt (1 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 1 W, 1.80) in the inning on an RBI sacrifice fly from Matt Duffy (.300, 1-for-2, 1 RBI, 1 W) that snapped an 18-inning scoreless streak and cut the Rockies lead to 3-1. With two outs and one on Buster Posey launched a pinch-hit rocket to straight away center field that Charlie Blackmon caught while crashing hard into the wall to end the threat.
The Giants failed to provide run support to back up their starter for the second straight game. Tim Hudson (0-1, 2.03) pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out four in the loss. The Giants find themselves in the midst of a five game losing streak.
"We have some guys that are really, really pressing right now," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's pretty obvious looking at the at-bats."
For the first time this season the Rockies offense was held to a single digit hit total (9). Corey Dickerson (.406) led the way for the Rockies with a 3-for-4 night. He drove in the Rockies first run in the first with a RBI single that scored Arenado. Dickerson would score the Rockies second run from third base in the second when Hudson threw a wild pitch that rolled to the backstop.
The Rockies would tack on two more runs on a safety squeeze by DJ LeMahieu (.516, 1-for-2, 1 RBI, 1 R) in the fourth and a RBI ground out to short in the ninth from a pinch-hitting Wilin Rosario.
San Francisco used to be where Rockies west coast road trips went to die. With the win on Tuesday night Colorado has now won seven of their last 11 games at AT&T Park.
Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa moves closer to returning to the rotation after pitching five innings with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes. De La Rosa gave up two earned runs on five hits and struck out five.
Giants left fielder Nori Aoki extended his career-best hitting streak to 17 games.
Rockies former closer LaTroy Hawkins made his first appearance since blowing back-to-back saves against the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs last week. Hawkins pitched a perfect sixth inning.
Giants right-hander Matt Cain is expected to begin throwing next week as he recovers from a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm.
04/15/15 Colorado Rockies - San Francisco Giants 8:15 PM PDT
LHP Tyler Matzek (0-0, 2.25) - RHP Tim Lincecum (0-0,0.00)
In Matzek's last start against the Chicago Cubs he received a no-decision following just four innings of work in which he gave up a run on four hits.
In his last start Lincecum received a no-decision in the loss at San Diego. Lincecum was brilliant in seven innings of work as he blanked the Padres on four hits. As has become an all too familiar pattern so far this season the Giants were unable to provide run support to back up Lincecum's performance.