Rockies shoot for third straight win over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — The Colorado Rockies will look to put more distance between themselves and the San Francisco Giants in the National League West when they meet for the third straight day Saturday.

The Rockies won a second game in a row Friday night behind Ian Desmond’s four RBIs and the strong pitching of Kyle Freeland, pulling away from the Giants late for a 6-1 win.

In the first meeting of the season between the NL West rivals, the Rockies won 5-3 on Thursday night on Carlos Gonzalez’s two-run single in the 12th inning.

The success against the Giants (22-24), who won World Series championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014, had the Rockies (25-20) talking division title Friday. Colorado has never captured the NL West crown.

“I think the opportunity is there. It’s just a matter of whether we take advantage of it or not,” Nolan Arenado said. “We have a lot of work to do, and there are a lot of games left. Hopefully, we can win a series here. That would be huge for us, because the Giants are right behind us.”

The Rockies will send right-hander Jon Gray (4-5, 4.85 ERA) in search for a series-clinching win Saturday. He has never beaten the Giants, going 0-1 with a 2.35 ERA in three career starts, all of which have been in San Francisco.

Gray has been on a nice roll of late, having recorded 35 strikeouts over 25 1/3 innings in his last four starts, three of which he won.

One player Gray can expect to see is Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who didn’t start against the left-handed Freeland on Friday despite having homered in his previous four games.

Belt got a crack at extending his streak to five in a pinch-hitting role in the seventh inning, but struck out against Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw, who was making the 500th appearance of his career.

Despite not having his regular first baseman in the starting lineup, Giants manager Bruce Bochy managed to get Belt a meaningful at-bat off the bench.

He came up with the Giants down 4-1, after singles by Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford had allowed the potential game-tying run to come to the plate.

But Belt, as he had done as the final batter of Wednesday’s game against Cincinnati, couldn’t pull the trigger on Shaw’s full-count pitch, making it three games in a row in which a Giant struck out looking in a critical, late-game plate appearance.

Longoria fanned looking to lead off the bottom of the 12th Thursday night, then was ejected from the game for questioning the call. Bochy also got thrown out for disputing a pitch he later viewed on replay and claimed was definitely a ball.

Belt has never gotten a hit (0-for-6 with a walk and a strikeout) against Gray.

Without Belt in the starting lineup, the Giants managed five hits Friday. Their lone run came on Freeland’s third pitch of the game, with Gorkys Hernandez belting a leadoff home run.

Right-hander Chris Stratton (4-3, 4.88) will oppose Gray as he looks to snap the Giants’ three-game losing streak.

He’s faced the Rockies twice in his career, once as a starter and once in relief, going 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA.