Misch, relievers battered by Rockies

Misch, relievers battered by Rockies

DENVER -- That highly efficient style of baseball the Giants maintained in Washington's thick humidity evaporated in Colorado's thin air as they lost Tuesday night to the Rockies, 10-5.

More than just the Giants' twin winning streaks -- four in a row overall, seven consecutive on the road -- dissolved at Coors Field.

Their airtight starting pitching deserted them as left-hander Pat Misch allowed four second-inning runs. During the four-game sweep at Washington, San Francisco starters allowed only five runs in 25 1/3 innings, which translates to a gaudy 1.78 ERA. With Kevin Correia ready to rejoin the starting rotation Sunday against Oakland, Misch (0-3) appears bound for the bullpen or Triple-A Fresno.

They exhibited poor judgment in baserunning, one of their chief areas of focus this season. Jose Castillo partially negated a 3-for-5 performance by fruitlessly trying to advance to third base on Randy Winn's comebacker after hitting a fourth-inning leadoff double. With two on and one out in the fifth inning, Ray Durham strayed too far from second base and was thrown out after his drive to left-center field (which was ruled an error) scored one run and sent Omar Vizquel to third.

San Francisco trailed 4-0 at both junctures, an easily surmountable deficit at this mile-high ballpark. But the Rockies widened the difference to 7-1 on Todd Helton's three-run homer off Vinnie Chulk in the fifth inning.

The Giants amassed 10 of their 12 hits in the final five innings, enabling them to sound credible as they rejected suggestions that their cross-country flight might have fatigued them or that the Washington whitewash could have prompted a letdown.

"I thought they played hard," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "They were fighting back to get in it."

Center fielder Aaron Rowand agreed.

"That's good to see when you're down that many runs late," said Rowand, who hit three grounders that seemed destined for left field until Colorado third baseman Garrett Atkins turned them into outs. "Everybody kept going up and taking good at-bats."

That included the Rockies -- particularly in the second inning, which was Misch's lone lapse in his four-inning stint. The Rockies loaded the bases with nobody out on singles by Atkins and Brad Hawpe and Chris Iannetta's walk. Omar Quintanilla, batting .222 overall and .154 (2-for-13) off left-handers, lined an RBI single. So did opposing pitcher Aaron Cook. Willy Taveras and Jeff Baker added sacrifice flies.

"I was kind of struggling all night to get a feel for the ball," Misch said, echoing a familiar complaint issued by pitchers visiting Coors Field. "Sometimes you'd throw a great curveball and the next one would float up there. But I can't make any excuses. I didn't get the job done."

Yet Misch, who's winless in 29 career Major League appearances, insisted that he didn't dwell on his near future before the game.

"No," he repeated flatly when asked whether Correia's impending activation from the disabled list nagged him.

Until the second inning, momentum seemed to favor Misch. Skipped once in the rotation due to a scheduled off-day, he pitched four perfect innings in two relief appearances before this start. Having allowed an average of two first-inning runs in his previous six starts, he stranded Taveras at third base by retiring Helton on a grounder to end the first.

"But when you think he had settled in for the second inning, he got the ball up," Bochy said. "I didn't think his stuff was the same tonight."

Nor were the Giants' fundamentals, especially in their half of the fifth. Batting for Misch with Travis Denker on second base and Vizquel on first base and one out, Durham hit a drive to left-center field that Taveras couldn't hold. Forced to hesitate due to the likelihood that Taveras would catch the ball, Denker and Vizquel, separated by only about 40 feet, took off simultaneously. Although it briefly appeared that both would be thrown out at home plate, Denker scored while Vizquel held at third base. But Durham was trapped between second and third and was tagged out, ending the Giants' chances for a big inning.

That helped Cook (9-3), who worked two batters into the eighth inning and allowed four runs (three earned) and nine hits while improving to 2-1 this year against the Giants.

"We were close to getting back in that ballgame and made a couple of mistakes," Bochy said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.