SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Charlie Blackmon had a two-run double in the second inning for his first career 200-hit season, but the contending Colorado Rockies couldn’t hold the 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 a half-game after Milwaukee won at Pittsburgh.
Hunter Pence hit a game-ending sacrifice fly with Colorado playing a five-man infield, with Carlos Gonzalez making an incredible diving catch. Pence followed up his two-run homer in the fifth as San Francisco grabbed the opener of a short two-game series between the NL West opponents.
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 in the ninth 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 Rockie with a 200-hit season, which has been done nine times overall by the franchise — twice by Todd Helton.
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 Carlos Gonzalez’s one-out double, then Hunter Strickland surrendered Parra’s double on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
Colorado starter German Marquez’s winless stretch reached six starts — he’s 0-3 during that span — since he beat Milwaukee on Aug. 18.
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 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, and will pitch opposite 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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