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Rockies, their offense in a deep freeze, lose eighth straight

SAN FRANCISCO — The Rockies aren’t just sliding, they are tumbling, head-over-hills, and they’re coming perilously close to ruining their promising season.

With key hits in big moments once again in short supply, they fell 5-3 to San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park. It was Colorado’s eighth consecutive defeat, and all of those sky-high feelings generated by a four-game sweep of the Giants from June 15-18 in Denver have vanished.

Wednesday’s game was ultimately decided by a newcomer’s first hit. Korean Jae-gyun Hwang, making his big-league debut, hit a memory-making home run in the sixth. He crushed starter Kyle Freeland’s two-out, 0-2 fastball to deep left-center field for a solo homer to put the Giants ahead 4-3.

Colorado put the leadoff man on in each of the first four innings, but that didn’t produce any runs outside of a two-run first inning. During the eight-game skid, the Rockies are hitting .206 and just .229 with runners in scoring position.

Freeland’s numbers were not great — four runs on seven hits over six innings — but the left-hander actually pitched pretty well. That is, if you toss out the two costly home runs he gave up.

The Rockies tied the game 3-all in the sixth. Pat Valaika, getting the start at second base for the injured DJ LeMahieu, put down a bunt for a single then scooted to third on starter Ty Blach’s high-and-wild throw to first. Right-fielder Mike Tauchman, making his first major-league start, rapped his first major-league hit up the middle to score Valaika.

Blach, a graduate of Regis Jesuit High School, kept the Rockies off balance for most of his 6 ⅓ innings. He allowed three runs (just one earned thanks to his own two errors) on seven hits, struck out six and walked three. The fans at AT&T serenaded him with a standing ovation when he left the mound in the seventh.

The Giants’ three-run fourth inning was pure exasperation for Freeland.

Joe Panik led off with a bloop single to left, followed by Austin Slater’s routine chopper that found a hole between first and second. Freeland got Brandon Belt to pop out to center and then got exactly what he wanted. He threw a quality sinker to Hwang, who smashed it back to Freeland on the mound. It could have resulted in an inning-ending double play, except that the ball glanced off Freeland’s glove and he had to settle for nailing Hwang at first as Panik scored from third.

That’s when Nick Hundley, the former Rockie, hit his flyball, two-run homer over the left-field fence. putting the Giants ahead 3-2.

The Rockies struck quickly. Charlie Blackmon led off the game by reaching first on a throwing error by Blach. Blackmon moved to third on Ian Desmond’s single. Desmond then stole second base. Arenado promptly drove them both home with a single to center. The two RBIs pushed Arenado’s RBI total to 61, one more than teammate Mark Reynolds.

 

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