SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jonathan Lucroy is confident the Colorado Rockies will find their swagger again, and fast. Their playoff hopes depend on it.
If the rookies dressing up in Denver Broncos jerseys for a flight to Southern California does the trick to loosen up this group, the catcher is all for it.
Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood dug himself an early hole against the Giants and now the Rockies’ lead for the second NL wild card is in jeopardy after a 4-0 loss to last-place San Francisco on Wednesday, the club’s third straight defeat.
“It’s natural for younger players and guys that have never been there before to press when you get close to crunch time,” Lucroy said. “We’re going to take a step back and have some fun today on the flight with our football team we have. Hopefully it will loosen some guys up and try to get back after the Padres. All we can control is our effort and our work. ... This is the most talented lineup I’ve ever been a part of. This lineup’s too good to be held down like that. It was going to come down the wire anyway, we knew that.”
Joe Panik hit a one-out triple in the first off Chatwood (8-13) and immediately scored on Denard Span’s sacrifice fly, then Panik doubled in the third and came home on Buster Posey’s sacrifice fly.
The Rockies’ wild-card advantage had been trimmed to one game by the Brewers to begin the day. Milwaukee was playing a night game at Pittsburgh.
Brandon Crawford hit a solo homer in the third to back Matt Moore (6-14), who earned his first win against Colorado after going 0-2 over his first three outings of the year.
After two straight 4-3, walkoff setbacks, the Rockies lost for the fifth time in seven games overall following a six-game winning streak. Colorado dropped a fifth straight at AT&T Park for its longest skid at the waterfront ballpark since losing nine in a row from Aug. 11, 2012-April 10, 2013.
“This time of year, it’s natural for all of us to magnify things, because it’s coming down to the end,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “And that’s great, which is what we want. That’s what players want, that’s what we want as an organization, to be in this situation.”
Moore struck out six and walked two over six innings, allowing six hits. He was chased in the seventh after back-to-back singles, and Steven Okert entered to face pinch-hitter Pat Valaika. Colorado couldn’t capitalize.
Panik added an RBI single in the seventh, missing hitting for the cycle by a home run. Pablo Sandoval hit two doubles.
“With that team having a lot to play for right now and for us to pick up these last two, especially last night, it feels good,” Moore said.
The Rockies will wrap up their road schedule with four games at San Diego beginning Thursday, two victories from tying the 2009 club for most road wins in franchise history (41-40) — the only time the team has finished above .500 away from Coors Field.
Colorado finished 12-7 against the Giants this season but 3-6 at AT&T Park after being swept in a three-game series June 26-28 and again in this quick two-game set. The Rockies missed matching a franchise record of 13 wins against one opponent in a season, having won 13 against Arizona in 2004.
DJ LeMahieu’s first-inning single gave him 30 hits in 2017 against Giants, most hits by a Rockies player in one season vs. San Francisco in franchise history. Juan Pierre is the only other Colorado player to have 30 hits against one opponent in a season: against Arizona in 2002 and ‘01 vs. the Dodgers.
Rockies: RF Carlos Gonzalez had a planned day off to rest. ... Chad Bettis will start Saturday at San Diego, the right-hander’s eighth start this season after returning from his treatment with testicular cancer.
Giants: 1B Brandon Belt, transferred to the 60-day disabled list with a concussion as the Giants claimed RHP Pierce Johnson from the Cubs, did agility work on the field and continues to feel better. “I should be good in a couple weeks,” he said. “I turned a corner last week, just started feeling good.”
Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson (5-5, 5.28) faces the Padres for his second straight start after earning the win in a 16-0 victory Saturday at Coors Field. He is 2-0 over 10 scoreless innings since returning from the 60-day DL on Sept. 10.
Giants: After Thursday’s day off, RHP Jeff Samardzija (9-14, 4.42) — named the local baseball writers’ chapter “Good Guy” for his thoughtful cooperation with the media — pitches Friday at Dodger Stadium having allowed one earned run over eight innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks in his only other matchup with Los Angeles this season back on May 3.