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SF@COL: Helton lays out to make the play at first

DENVER -- A home-opening Purple Monday turned sad and blue for Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin on Monday afternoon.

The Giants' Pablo Sandoval launched a first-inning Chacin fastball into the upper deck in right field, and Chacin walked five in four innings as the Rockies lost their third straight game, 7-0, at Coors Field in front of a sellout crowd of 49,282.

The Rockies want to proudly display their color -- currently unique among MLB teams -- on Mondays. Many of the fans complied, and matched the stadium staff and the players, who will wear the purple jersey at home on Mondays all year. During introductions, the starting lineup jogged along a purple carpet onto the field.

Chacin (0-1) could have used a purple path to the strike zone.

"I just want to forget this one, and just try to work on my mechanics and go get them next time," Chacin said.

But this one will be recorded in a special place for reasons beyond Chacin's poor performance.

The Rockies suffered a shutout for the first time in the 20 home openers in franchise history. And Giants left-hander Barry Zito (1-0) held the Rockies to four hits to earn his first shutout since April 18, 2003, for the Athletics against the Rangers.

"I always say if you catch me on a good day when stuff's working, things are going to turn out good -- and vice versa, regardless of the team," said Zito, whose effort ended the Giants' three-game season-opening losing streak.

Just twice did the Rockies place a runner as far as second base. They had two on when Dexter Fowler struck out on an up-and-away fastball to end the third. Ramon Hernandez, who was catching for the Athletics and homered in Zito's last shutout, doubled with two out in the seventh, but Zito forced Chris Nelson to bounce to the mound.

"In '03, he threw 90 or 91 [mph]," Hernandez said. "Now it's tops, 86. It's not easy to hit, but it's easier to adjust sometimes, but not when he's mixing all his pitches."

Zito used offspeed pitches early in counts. No matter what he threw, it was in the strike zone.

In other words, Chacin didn't resemble Zito in the least.

Early last season, Chacin looked like a future ace, and he can look that way on occasion. But in his final 16 starts of last season, he was 4-10 with a 4.58 ERA, and this season started with Chacin's body moving faster than his arm and his fastball missing inside to right-handed hitters and outside to left-handers.

"It's something he has to correct," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "I've been talking about this all spring long. Jhoulys cannot think that he can go out there and survive pitching with just secondary pitches."

In the first inning, Melky Cabrera bunted for a single and Sandoval followed by sending an 88-mph fastball for a crowd-quieting homer and a 2-0 Giants lead. In the third, Chacin struck out leadoff man Gregor Blanco, then walked four of the next six batters. Following the advice of Rockies veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer, Chacin tried to save himself with a ground-ball double play.

Instead, Hector Sanchez fouled off a good pitch low in the zone then singled on a slider over the plate to drive in a run. Angel Pagan drove in another with a fielder's choice that didn't go to the right spot to begin a double play. San Francisco led, 4-0.

"That's pretty hard, to happen in the first game of the season, but I'm not going to give it up," Chacin said. "I'm going to keep working."

Errors by Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki set up Brandon Crawford's three-run double off reliever Matt Reynolds that pushed the advantage to 7-0.

Through four games, the Rockies, who have augmented the heart of their lineup with several veteran hitters, have hit .180, scored a total of 10 runs and scored just two earned runs off a starting pitcher.

"Wash it off and move on, come out Wednesday and battle back," Fowler said. "People make it bigger than it is. It's three or four games. We have veteran guys. We know how to win." Comments