DENVER (AP) — Juan Nicasio scattered three hits over six innings, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki each drove in two runs and the Colorado Rockies won their first series over San Francisco in two years, beating the Giants 5-0 on Sunday.
Dexter Fowler tied a career high with four hits to help the Rockies take three of four from the reigning World Series champions. Jordan Pacheco also drove in a run as Colorado captured its first series against San Francisco since May 16-17, 2011, at Coors Field.
Nicasio (4-1) shut down one of the top-hitting teams in baseball, striking out five and allowing only an intentional walk before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. It was only the third time in nine starts the righty has thrown at least six innings.
Barry Zito (3-3) couldn’t get on track as he turned in a second straight ineffective outing. He allowed 11 hits and five runs in 5 2-3 innings.
Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford each had two hits. Pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias had the other as the Giants lost their third in a row to the Rockies after beating them 10 straight times.
Before Sunday, Nicasio had labored in games, throwing way too many pitches that led to early exits. He was pretty much pitching to keep his spot in the rotation, especially on the heels of Tyler Chatwood’s solid performance the previous day. Nicasio could be the odd starter out when Jeff Francis returns from the disabled list at the end of the month.
More outings like this only boost Nicasio’s case to remain in the rotation. He worked his way out of a sticky situation in the sixth, striking out Brandon Belt with runners on second and third. So elated was Nicasio that he skipped off the mound and pumped his fist before making his way into the dugout to an ovation.
The Giants concluded a six-game road swing with a 1-5 mark in which their starting pitching fizzled and their defense faltered. The starters had a 9.82 ERA and the fielders committed 13 errors on the trip.
This is far from the norm for the Giants, whose rotation was so dependable in winning the World Series last season.
“We’re going to have our off days and we’re going to be bad,” manager Bruce Bochy explained. “It’s a temporary thing. You don’t have the success we’ve had and not be good, these pitchers. Have to remind themselves how good they are.”
Zito struggled on Tuesday in Toronto when he surrendered eight runs — five earned — in 5 2-3 innings. He was looking to get back on track against Colorado, a team he hadn’t lost to since Sept. 25, 2008.
The Rockies pounced on Zito early, scoring a run in the first when Gonzalez singled home Eric Young Jr.
Colorado opened a 3-0 lead in the fifth on an RBI double by Gonzalez and a run-scoring single from Pacheco. Tulowitzki added some insurance with a two-run single an inning later off Jose Mijares, who came in for Zito.
Bochy elected to rest two of his hottest hitters, catcher Buster Posey and infielder Marco Scutaro. It was a particularly difficult decision for Bochy to keep Scutaro out of the lineup since he’s in the midst of a 17-game hitting streak.
“He’s been on a great run here,” Bochy said. “Sometimes, you’ve got to give him a break.”
Notes: Giants 2B Nick Noonan collided with Gonzalez on a pick-off attempt in the third, appearing to hurt his neck and right shoulder. Noonan stayed in the game. ... CF Angel Pagan left in the fifth with the flu. ... The Giants begin a six-game homestand Monday against Washington with struggling RHP Ryan Vogelsong (1-4) taking the mound. ... The Rockies gave away 20,000 Dante Bichette bobblehead dolls on Sunday. Bichette, the team’s hitting coach, also threw out the first pitch. ... Colorado RHP Jon Garland will throw Monday against Arizona. ... Manager Walt Weiss attended his son’s high school graduation Sunday before arriving at the park.