DENVER -- Despite another big night from Rockies rookies, the Giants stole the thunder Saturday, handing Colorado its seventh consecutive series loss with an 11-6 defeat.
It's a testament to the 2012 version of "Coors quality" pitching that starter Jeff Francis seemed to be enjoying a relatively strong start by allowing three runs in three innings. With Sunday's starting pitcher going to the DL before the middle tilt in the three-game set, and the Rockies bullpen a bit shell-shocked after Friday night's 16-4 shellacking, Colorado was looking for length from the left-hander.
But when he walked in the sixth run with two out in the fourth, Francis was finished for the night.
"We're not disappointed in [our] six runs and 14 hits and a lot of young kids out there on that field," manager Jim Tracy said. "The tough part once again, we spotted them six in 3 2/3 innings. The six and 14 that we got was a matter of having to swim upstream the rest of the night. We snuggled up a little closer to them at 6-3 and turned around and gave up four more runs."
Early on, Francis offered hope by demonstrating efficiency with his pitches, even the ones that got away. The first three runs all came on the long ball. After Francis issued a two-out walk to Melky Cabrera in the first frame, Buster Posey drove Francis' first offering deep into the left-field stands. Cabrera followed in the third inning with a towering two-out homer to left.
"I've made some mistakes that I've paid for," Francis said. "Early in the game, the ball down the middle to Posey. I walked a guy ahead of him, which was dumb."
Francis had a six-start stretch in June and July during which he only once gave up as many as three runs, but in his last four starts, he has given up five runs twice and six runs twice.
"In games that I threw well, I'd get away with things here and there -- something would roll my way," Francis said. "I've got to look at it honestly. I'm just not throwing the ball well enough."
All six of Francis' runs allowed came with two outs.
It took the Rockies 16 outs, but they finally got to Giants starter Madison Bumgarner (12-6, 3.03 ERA) in the sixth courtesy of rookie Josh Rutledge, who launched his sixth roundtripper since making his big league debut three weeks ago -- and his fifth home run in the last six games.
"They actually moved the ball around a little bit against a pretty good starting pitcher," Tracy said. "We know how good he is sitting there with 11 wins, a more than respectable earned run average, a real tough guy that's been tough on us in the past. We kept battling and battling and got into their bullpen and did some things against their bullpen. What more can you ask them to do?"
With the Rockies starting the game 28 games under .500, their rookie position players have consistently given the club something to cheer about. Rutledge entered the game leading all rookies with 27 hits since his debut, Jordan Pacheco's .306 season average was tops among NL rookies entering play Saturday and Wilin Rosario's 18 homers and 44 RBIs both set the standard in the Senior Circuit.
But Saturday night was Matt McBride's night to shine as the 27-year-old made his Major League debut, notched his first hit in the fifth and plated his first run with a double in the Rockies' two-run seventh. McBride came around to score when Jonathan Herrera drove a run-scoring single to center.
"I just tried to put that first [at-bat] behind me as quickly as I could," McBride said of his strikeout against Bumgarner in his first big league at-bat. "He's a great pitcher. I tried to battle and put a good swing on the ball. I was able to get that hit. It does feel good to get one out of the way. You always think about it -- got to get that first one."
Colorado climbed back within reach with its late awakening at the plate, but a four-run Giants eighth marked the second rout in as many days. An error by Rosario, who came in to make just his third career appearance at third base as part of a double-switch in the seventh, accounted for the first run of the inning when Rosario, usually a catcher, cut off a throw to the plate from left fielder Carlos Gonzalez that appeared on track to beat Brandon Belt home.
From there, the floodgates opened, with a solo homer from Angel Pagan pacing the Giants to a seven-run lead before they held on as the Rockies scored twice in the eighth and once in the ninth.
"It's addictive," Pagon said of catching the home run fever from Cabrera and Posey. "You want to go out there and do the same thing so when they don't do it, you can pick them up."
The loss put the Rockies 15 games under .500 at home, where they haven't won a series since taking two of three vs. the Dodgers from June 1-3.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.