DENVER -- Since closers often are barometers of their team's success, Mark Melancon's self-criticism may not have been too surprising.
Asked to evaluate his overall performance after yielding Nolan Arenado's game-winning, three-run homer that sealed the Colorado Rockies' 7-5 victory Sunday over the Giants, Melancon replied without hesitation.
"My performance has been absolutely terrible," he said. "Yeah. I need to be better. That's it."
The same could be said of the Giants, who tumbled to their season-high sixth consecutive defeat. That left them 19 1/2 games behind first-place Colorado in the National League West standings.
The Giants appeared destined for a stirring victory after pinch-hitter Hunter Pence's two-run homer fueled a three-run surge in the ninth inning that put them ahead, 5-3. Then Melancon surrendered four consecutive one-out hits, a sequence punctuated by Arenado's homer, to record his fourth blown save in 14 chances.
Asked whether his role in dissolving the euphoria following Pence's homer made this loss particularly difficult to absorb, Melancon said, "A hundred percent. Gosh -- when we have the lead in the ninth, lately, it's been a special day. For him to step in, pinch-hit and do that -- that's a positive that we can take away from and start building on."
This was the first appearance since June 8 and only the second of the month for Melancon, who signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants last offseason. His lack of activity has been partially due to the scarcity of save opportunities his teammates have provided for him. He also spent time on the disabled list during May with a pronator strain in his throwing arm, but on Sunday he described his health as "fine."
Said Pence, "I know how hard he works, I know what kind of guy he is and I believe in him a hundred thousand percent. These things happen."
Melancon skirted excuses and blamed himself for his lapse.
"I didn't execute as good as I wanted to. That's why [the Rockies] were able to make contact," he said. Describing what he meant by execution, Melancon indicated his timing was off in his delivery: "Just one more tick, and it's different."
There was some lamentation among the Giants over the hits preceding Arenado's homer. Manager Bruce Bochy characterized pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia's single to center field as a "blooper," called Charlie Blackmon's single "another [blooper] we couldn't quite get to" and dismissed DJ LeMahieu's single as an "eight-hopper."
Melancon, summarized Bochy, "should have fared a lot better than what happened."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.