SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jeff Samardzija is going to prepare as if he might pitch a potential wild-card playoff game Monday and stay ready in case he might be needed sooner if San Francisco’s season is on the line.
The Giants wasted Samardzija’s latest stellar start with a chance to grab momentum after a big offensive outburst a night earlier, yet instead the playoff-hopeful Giants ended up with a costly dud in a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night.
“As long as they know I’m ready, that’s all that counts,” Samardzija said. “... This is the time of year, man, this feels great to be out there pitching when the weather turns a little bit and the season comes to an end. I always love being able to see the finish line and it always allows me to go a little harder. I enjoy staring down the tube when it’s about to be done and just let it all hang out. Hopefully we get a chance to do that here a handful more times.”
The bats had better be ready the rest of the way, too.
Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood (12-9) struck out nine in eight innings and outdueled Samardzija (12-11), shutting down San Francisco a day after the Giants pounded 19 hits in a 12-3 win.
San Francisco dropped 1 1/2 games behind the Mets for the top wild card and remained a game up on St. Louis for the second spot after the Cardinals lost to Cincinnati.
In a game that began with a hovering mist above the field on a cool Bay Area night — with first-pitch temperature 55 degrees — Samardzija struck out a season-high 11 in six-plus innings of his final regular season start. He allowed seven hits and two runs, walking one.
Pinch-hitter Kelby Tomlinson doubled leading off the ninth against Rockies closer Boone Logan, who then allowed Brandon Belt’s two-out infield single. Adam Ottavino retired Buster Posey on a groundout to third to end it for his sixth save.
The Giants’ lone runner to reach second before the ninth was Angel Pagan on a wild pitch in the second. What a contrast from San Francisco’s free-swinging performance Tuesday, when it produced 10 extra-base hits with three home runs, four triples and three doubles.
“Two different teams,” manager Bruce Bochy said of his club from one night to the next. “Chatwood’s been tough on us. He was good tonight. We just couldn’t figure him out. We had a runner on second base one time through eight innings. That’s going to work. We pitched well, we played well, this offense couldn’t get it going, couldn’t figure him out.”
Twice baserunners were caught stealing and the Giants grounded into two double plays. They know they have serious work to do in order to keep alive a streak of World Series championships in even years this decade: 2010, ‘12 and ‘14.
Samardzija has struck out nine or more in each of his past three starts against the Rockies. With runners on first and third and one out in the sixth, Samardzija induced an inning-ending double play by Nolan Arenado.
Chatwood dazzled — and that has been the norm for him away from Coors Field. He allowed three hits and walked two as the Rockies snapped an eight-game road losing streak.
He is 8-1 with a majors-best 1.69 ERA in 13 road starts, and he is 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA in six career outings at AT&T Park. Chatwood’s road ERA is the lowest in franchise history for pitchers with at least 80 innings.
After allowing Conor Gillaspie’s leadoff single in the third, Chatwood retired the next 11 batters in order before Belt drew a leadoff walk in the seventh.
“He can put the ball on the ground with the best of them. He got two huge double plays. To shut that team down for eight innings, that was impressive,” manager Walt Weiss said.
Arenado and Gerardo Parra hit RBI singles for the Rockies.
In Thursday night’s series finale, San Francisco will try to win just its second home series since the All-Star break and fourth series overall in 22 over the second half.
San Francisco was shut out for the 13th time, nine coming after the All-Star break.
Rockies: NL batting leader DJ LeMahieu, hitting .349, had the night off as Weiss went with Daniel Descalso. Weiss will pick his moments when to use LeMahieu over the final week.
Giants: While INF Eduardo Nunez still hopes to return from a hamstring injury this weekend for the season-ending series against the NL West champion Dodgers, Bochy considers it “questionable.” Nunez has a mild right hamstring pull. ... RHP Johnny Cueto’s strained left groin felt fine a day after his bullpen session and he is set to start Thursday’s series finale.
Rockies: RHP Jon Gray (10-9, 4.45 ERA) has struck out 26 batters his past two starts, most in a two-game span in club history.
Giants: Cueto (17-5, 2.79) is 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA in three starts against the Rockies this season.