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05/11/07 1:10 AM ET

Giants open road stretch with loss

Bats quiet with runners in scoring position; Lowry takes loss

DENVER -- You may recall that stretch in which the Giants scored at least five runs in eight consecutive games. After all, it extended through last Monday. But it already seems like ancient history, especially in the wake of Thursday's events.

Not only did the Giants lose offensive dynamo Dave Roberts to an injured left elbow for at least six weeks, but they also dropped the opener of a four-game series to the Colorado Rockies, 5-3. Given repeated opportunities, the Giants went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base.

Runs could remain difficult to generate for the Giants, particularly while Roberts recovers from the arthroscopic surgery he's expected to undergo Friday and as opponents continue to avoid Barry Bonds. The cleanup hitter barely missed his 746th career home run when he doubled off the top of the right-field wall in the fourth inning, but he also walked in the seventh and ninth innings when the Giants could have used his powerful swing the most.

When this happens, numerous others must contribute. Rockies starter Aaron Cook (2-1) and three relievers didn't allow it. Randy Winn, Roberts' replacement at the top of the order, singled and walked in five plate appearances but never advanced beyond second base. Moreover, the nature of the Giants' offense changed without Roberts, who was 7-for-8 in stolen-base attempts.

"Dave Roberts is the kind of guy who can get things going at any time because of his speed," shortstop Omar Vizquel said. "Randy is not a bad baserunner, but Roberts, that's his speciality. I need to start rallies a little bit better if I'm going to stay in the second hole."

The night was full of truncated rallies for the Giants (17-17), who have lost three consecutive games and nine of their last 14 while falling to .500 for the first time since they were 8-8.

Their evening ended with a brief but dashed glimmer of hope on Ray Durham's line drive, which Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki speared and turned into a double play with two runners aboard.

One inning earlier, Winn flied out deep to left field with two on and two out. That inning began with an unlucky hit-and-run attempt as Bengie Molina helplessly leaned away from a high-and-inside pitch, leading to Ryan Klesko getting thrown out at second base.

Before that, Rich Aurilia flied deep to left with Winn on second and one out in the seventh. That set up the inevitable intentional walk to Bonds, which preceded Durham's harmless fly to left off reliever Manny Corpas. The Giants wasted Bonds' one-out double in the fourth, and Vizquel grounded out with two on and two out in the third.

"The only thing you can ask is for a guy to take a good swing, and I thought the guys took some good swings tonight," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We just didn't have one fall."

The Giants' hitting shortage victimized Noah Lowry (4-3), whose four-game winning streak ended as he allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings. Lowry sabotaged his respectable effort by committing a fielding error in Colorado's three-run third.

Steve Finley led off with an infield single before Lowry fumbled Cook's sacrifice bunt for an error. Lowry explained that he thought "right off the bat" about firing the ball to second base for a forceout.

"He bunted it hard," explained Lowry, his nasal voice demonstrating the effects of a cold. "I went to take it out of the glove and didn't have it."

Jamey Carroll's sacrifice advanced the runners before Tulowitzki's double scored them. Matt Holliday then smashed a one-hopper to Vizquel, who threw to third to try to retire Tulowitzki. The throw and the runner arrived simultaneously, causing the ball to fly past Aurilia toward the Giants' dugout for the inning's second error.

"The ball was hit hard enough to try to make the out at third," said Vizquel, whose participation in three double plays gave him 1,590, tying him with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith for first on the all-time list among shortstops. "The way I caught it, I thought I had a better chance at third than throwing to first. I took my chances at third and I blew it."

Tulowitzki charged home, where Lowry was covering the plate, and scored with a popup slide. He then shoved Lowry with his forearm shortly after rising. They exchanged words, but hostilities didn't escalate. Lowry learned after he doubled in the fifth inning and chatted with Tulowitzki that there was no reason to stay mad.

"He said he was trying to get his balance," Lowry said. "At the time, I didn't see it that way. Obviously, after talking, everything was fine."

But for the Giants overall, everything's far from fine.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.