DENVER (AP) — In between starts, the message to Kyle Freeland was rather low-key.
As in, low was the key.
Freeland kept the ball down while pitching seven sharp innings, Gerardo Parra hit a two-run homer and the Colorado Rockies beat San Francisco 8-0 on Sunday for their first three-game sweep of the Giants at Coors Field since 2002.
Freeland (2-1) mixed a wicked sinker with a two-seam fastball to get 12 groundouts and three strikeouts. The Denver native allowed six hits and shattered three bats on a day when the Giants changed their lineup to try to break out of a hitting funk. It didn’t work as they lost for the sixth time in seven games.
“Moving forward, that should be a big part of Kyle’s game — the ground ball,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He did a great job.”
Colorado leads the NL West with a 13-6 mark. It’s tied for the second-best start in franchise history.
Then again, the Rockies have gotten off to hot starts before, only to drop off in late May or early June.
“I don’t gauge that as much as some people might,” Black said. “This is a different group.”
The struggles keep going for the Giants, who fell to 6-13. It’s their worst start since 1983.
“There’s nothing clicking,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I am not saying we’re not good, we are good, but we have to find a way come out of this by all of us stepping it up.”
Jeff Samardzija (0-4) remains winless after going 5 1/3 innings and surrendering seven runs. That’s the most runs he has allowed since Sept. 15, 2015, when he gave up 10 against Oakland when he was with the Chicago White Sox.
No time to panic, though.
“We just need to go out there and play a little smarter, play a little cleaner and get back to Giants baseball, which is why we have been so successful,” Samardzija said.
Giants: OF Denard Span remains day to day after leaving the game Saturday with a sprained right shoulder. He crashed into the wall while making a catch. ... OF Mac Williamson (strained left quad) went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday.
Rockies: First baseman Ian Desmond (broken left hand) is hitting off a tee and taking some soft-toss swings.... RHP Jon Gray (stress fracture in his left foot) is expected to have a second X-ray within the next week.
Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon led off with a triple for the second straight game. The last major league player to do that was Jose Reyes in 2012, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Two other Rockies have led off with a triple in two straight games — Neifi Perez in 1999 and Eric Young in 1993.
Blackmon also had a two-run double in the sixth.
“The old adage, ‘Hit it where it’s pitched’ — that’s sort of Charlie,” Black said.
Leading 3-0 in the sixth, Freeland appeared to have a 1-2-3 inning when Mark Reynolds dove for a hard grounder, got up and dove to first to beat Hunter Pence to the bag. After a review, the call was overturned. Buster Posey followed with a single before Freeland struck out Brandon Crawford on a full-count slider to end the threat.
“That was a good pitch — a strike-to-ball start on that,” the rookie left-hander said. “We knew he was looking out there.”
The Rockies then broke open the game with a five-run sixth inning.
THIS & THAT
The Rockies are 6-1 against San Francisco this season. ... Catcher Nick Hundley had a double in the seventh against his former team. It was San Francisco’s only extra-base hit. ... Parra’s homer in the fourth was his second of the season.
Giants: RHP Matt Cain (1-0, 3.31 ERA) takes the mound Monday as the Giants open a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cain hasn’t beaten the Dodgers since May 5, 2013.
Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson (1-3, 7.32 ERA) faces Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals in the opener of a four-game set on Monday.
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