DENVER (AP) Jhoulys Chacin is getting closer to being back to form. Now a win would be nice to go with good health.
Carlos Gonzalez, however, took a few steps back with his health.
Chacin was sharp despite allowing three runs, including solo homers to Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, in 5 2-3 innings of the Colorado Rockies’ 5-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.
It was a positive step for the right-hander despite falling to 0-3 in four starts since coming off the disabled list May 4. Chacin missed the first month of the season with a right shoulder strain but has pitched into the sixth inning in each of his last three outings.
”It was an encouraging outing; he took another step forward,” manager Walt Weiss said. ”He’s done that in each outing but I thought his stuff was much sharper tonight. His velocity was up a couple ticks and I thought all around it was a step forward for him.”
Gonzalez had a setback after his left index finger became swollen during the game. He said he had an X-ray after being removed from the game at the end of the seventh inning but nothing was broken.
”Just a lot of swelling,” he said. ”One of those things I have to deal with and get treatment every day.”
Gonzalez has been bothered by the finger for a while. He came out of a game against the Mets on May 1 and sat out the next day before returning to the lineup on May 3.
After Wednesday’s game he had the finger wrapped after going 0 for 2 with a walk.
”I lost everything. I can’t get a grip, I can’t bend my finger so it’s really hard to hit,” he said. ”My first at-bat my finger started swelling again. My second at-bat I walked but the third at-bat it was really bad. When I hit that ball to left field they decided to take me out of the game because it was looking bad.”
Tony Cloninger of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles at Memorial Stadium in 1970.
Even with Gonzalez in the lineup the Rockies couldn’t do much against the NL West-leading Giants. Yusmeiro Petit threw three sharp innings after starter Matt Cain left with a strained right hamstring and Brandon Crawford also connected for San Francisco, which won at Coors Field for just the fifth time in 15 games dating back to last season.
Cain didn’t allow a hit through three innings, before giving way to Petit (3-1). He and four other relievers limited the best offensive team in the majors to just five hits.
”Cain and Petit pitched to the edges of the plate really well, ran the ball really well,” Weiss said. ”That was the biggest thing. They didn’t throw many pitches in the middle of the plate.”
Pence’s solo homer off Chacin leading off the fourth was the first hit of the game. Sandoval connected in the fifth and Michael Morse followed with a double to chase Chacin.
”Two bad pitches, two homers, two runs,” Chacin said. ”I made a bad pitches to Morse but I felt fine.”
Trailing 5-0 in the eighth, the Rockies loaded the bases with no outs. Michael Cuddyer sent a grounder up the middle that Crawford tracked down and scooped over to second base with his glove to start a double play.
Troy Tulowitzki then flew out limit the damage to only a run.
The Giants had another pitcher get hurt in the ninth, when reliever Santiago Casilla injured his right leg hustling down the first base line trying to beat out a hit. He fell over the bag and rolled several times on the field. Casilla was helped to the dugout by the trainers and Jeremy Affeldt finished the game.
Cain was settling into a rhythm when Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu sent a sharp comebacker at the right-hander in the third. While the ball appeared to glance off Cain’s glove, the Giants came out to check on him. Cain finished the inning before the bullpen took over.
Earlier this season, Cain missed 13 games after he cut his right index finger while making a ham-and-cheese sandwich in the Giants clubhouse. The cut didn’t require stitches.
Tulowitzki’s torrid hitting at home this season (.521 with eight homers) caught the attention of Giants broadcaster and former major league pitcher Mike Krukow.
”You’re always skeptical – it’s just the way you are as a player,” Krukow said before the game. ”He’s hitting as if he’s getting signs. I’m not accusing anybody of anything.”
Still, Weiss had some fun with the assertion his shortstop is somehow stealing signs.
”We have a light bulb on the scoreboard we flash. Keep an eye on Dinger (the team’s mascot), he’s involved,” Weiss said. ”We switch out the balls. Got the umpires in on it.
”I love it when other teams talk about that,” Weiss said. ”I think it’s great. I think it feeds the beast.”
NOTES: The Rockies have not lost a series at home this season. … Cuddyer’s double in the sixth inning was his first hit since coming off the disabled list Tuesday. … RHP Tim Hudson (4-2) will take the mound in the series finale on Thursday. The Rockies will throw LHP Jorge De La Rosa (5-3).