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Giants struggle at home vs. Rockies

Giants struggle at home vs. Rockies

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' 15-6 loss Wednesday night to the Colorado Rockies was so lopsided that it defied analysis, unless you wished to ponder some of the Giants' more enigmatic performers who helped make this game what it was.

Jonathan Sanchez and Kevin Correia surrendered seven runs apiece. What role will they fill with the Giants next year, if they're with them at all? John Bowker delivered his 10th home run of the season and went 3-for-5; how involved will he be in next year's competition at first base or the outfield?

Begin with Sanchez, who absorbed the decision. Sanchez thrived at times this season, particularly in June, when he finished 5-1 with a 3.10 ERA while lasting seven innings or more in five of six starts.

Since then, Sanchez (9-12) is 1-8 with 7.23 ERA in 12 starts. With his repertoire of pitches, the left-hander should never endure such rough stretches. But this was the first full professional season for Sanchez, who's just 25. It can fairly be said that he's still learning to harness his stuff and build endurance. Barring a surprise relief appearance this weekend against the Dodgers, Sanchez will finish this season with 158 innings, 32 1/3 more than his previous professional high, which he set with low Class A Augusta in 2005.

Sanchez admitted that fatigue "might be" a factor in his second-half slump. This has prompted him to approach the offseason with renewed dedication.

"I think I have to work harder than I did last year," Sanchez said. "Work to finish strong."

Manager Bruce Bochy suggested that Sanchez also must build the perseverance and savvy that help pitchers weather opponents' rallies and prevent big innings from mushrooming.

"In this game, you have to battle through the rough times," Bochy said. "That is what he has to deal with a little bit better. Those last couple of starts where things haven't gone well, he hasn't found a way to get back on track. You have to as a starter and that is what has really done him in. ... I think the frustration gets to him."

Sanchez likely will rejoin the rotation next year. They'll especially need him if Noah Lowry's comeback from forearm surgery keeps progressing uncertainly. But, given the Giants' need for offense at a corner infield position, it's legitimate to wonder whether the Giants would consider including Sanchez in a deal for a hitter.

Then there's Correia, whose finish contrasts dramatically with his season-ending surge in 2007. Correia essentially clinched the No. 5 starter's spot in last year's final month and a half, going 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA in eight starts.

Correia seemed to continue that momentum in his second start this season, when he blanked St. Louis for 7 2/3 innings on April 10. But three starts later, Correia strained a muscle in his left side. After he returned, he recorded just four quality starts in his next 14, prompting Bochy to drop him from the rotation.

Bochy said that Correia's injury might have derailed his season.

"But that was so long ago," Bochy said. "He has had time to get back."

Correia's eligible for salary arbitration, but his 3-8 record and 6.05 ERA might dissuade the Giants from tendering him an offer.

Bowker was the Pablo Sandoval of April, amassing three homers and nine RBIs in his first seven games. But his drives shortened as summer lengthened, leading the Giants to option him to Triple-A Fresno. Up came Sandoval, who has proceeded to hit .333 in 37 games. Travis Ishikawa (.279, three homers in 30 games) also has asserted himself. In fact, Bowker started on Wednesday only because Ishikawa was attending to his wife, who was delivering their second child. The presence of Sandoval and Ishikawa has all but silenced talk about Bowker becoming San Francisco's first baseman of the future.

But Bowker doesn't think of himself as being bypassed.

"I try not to look at it that way," he said, hitting his first home run since July 2, a span of 114 at-bats. "Those guys came up here and did a good job. The only thing I can control is the way I work and when I get an opportunity, take advantage of it."

Bowker's mind-set was widely shared. In the seventh inning, for what must have been the first time in years, the Giants had nine rookies on the field. This reflected the youth of San Francisco's roster, which includes 17 rookies, as well as the nature of the game. Colorado's scoring and hit totals (18) were the most by a Giants opponent this year. Every Rockies starter, including pitcher Livan Hernandez (13-11), collected at least one hit and scored at least once.

"That game started out bad and gradually got worse," 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.

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