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08/25/09 4:58 AM ET
Giants slammed backward in race
San Francisco can't hold three-run edge in 14-inning loss
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
DENVER -- In a game that took on mounting psychological significance as the extra innings ticked past, the Giants gave everything they had, using every available position player, Sunday's starting pitcher, and an injured decoy in the on-deck circle, finally taking a lead in the top of the 14th only to see it disappear with Ryan Spilborghs' grand slam into the center-field pine trees in the bottom of the inning, giving the game and the series to the Rockies, 6-4, extending the gap to four games between the Giants and the Wild Card-leading Rockies. "This one hurts, because now it's four back," Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito said. "There's a lot of baseball to be played, but the biggest thing about this one is that if we let it, it could hurt our momentum. It's important that we don't." The Giants got immediate momentum when they put a run on the scoreboard by plating leadoff hitter Eugenio Velez in the first frame of Monday's series finale at Coors Field, but it took them 13 innings to bookend it with the go-ahead run as Edgar Renteria bounced a triple into the right-field corner then scored on a two-run double into the left-center alley by Velez. "I was looking for something soft, because I got out two times with a changeup, so the hitting coach told me, 'They're going to throw you a changeup again,'" Velez said. "I was looking for a changeup, and he threw me a changeup outside, so forget it. I thought we'd won it, but anything can happen in the game." Proving Velez's point, what seemed like a secure 4-1 lead faded in the 14th as the Rockies limped to load the bases, used their seventh pitcher at the plate to walk in a run, then sent the Giants home dejected with the first walk-off grand slam in Rockies history. "We came back with three, and they came back with five. It was just a matter of us not being able to drive the nail in," Zito said. "It almost hurts sometimes when you're in the 14th inning and you're up by three. That intense focus that you've had every inning with zero margin of error, now you could say that you have a huge margin of error and you let a team in the door and they blow it wide open." Zito pitched six strong innings, marred only by his six walks, three of which came in the Rockies fifth inning, when they loaded the bases and brought home the tying run without virtue of a hit. The Giants yielded 13 walks and 10 hits in the game, twice walking in a run. "It was bizarre," Bochy said. "We played so well, and then we just shot ourselves in the foot there with walks. That's what got us. It hurt us really the whole series, and then it got us tonight in the last inning." The Giants threatened in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, getting runners into scoring position against Jason Marquis in the seventh and eighth, then watching pinch-hitter Fred Lewis strike out to end the seventh, and Uribe and Nate Schierholtz ground out, allowing Marquis to escape the eighth unscathed. In the ninth, Ryan Garko hit a leadoff double off Rafael Betancourt, but was stranded at second. Troy Tulowitzki made a diving stab of a hard grounder up the middle followed by a rocket of a throw to just nab Velez at first in the top of the 10th, then turned a 2-6-3 double play in the 11th when Bochy ran out of hitters and had reliever Brian Wilson bunting with one out and Tim Lincecum on base as a pinch-runner. The Giants' next best chance came in the 13th, when Randy Winn hit a one-out single, went to second on a passed ball and advanced to third on a fielder's choice for the second out. With Schierholtz at the plate, the injured Freddy Sanchez strode into the on-deck circle, stepping onto the field for the first time in six games. Schierholtz coaxed a 10-pitch walk out of Rockies reliever Adam Eaton, effectively calling the Giants' bluff as Sanchez went back to the dugout and reliever Brandon Medders took his hacks, barreling a line drive to the right of third, but not so far that Ian Stewart couldn't spear it with his glove to end the inning. "I couldn't use him," Bochy said, indicating a strong chance that Sanchez will land on the disabled list Tuesday. "If I pinch-hit him, then that's another 15 days we have to DL him." The final half-inning found leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler writhing in agony on the ground after fouling a ball off his shin against Medders. Fowler stayed in the game and walked, and a single and a walk off Justin Miller followed to load the bases, bringing up Eaton, who walked to force in a run. "I told Adam Eaton that if they walked Tulowitzki, don't swing," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "I don't care if he throws three right down the middle, don't swing because I want Spilborghs to have a shot with the bases loaded. If Justin Miller throws three pitches thrown for strikes, [Eaton would have] struck out. But we're not going to let him take a swing and hit a ground ball and end the game." Merkin Valdez came on as the third Giants pitcher of the inning and watched the game disappear over the center-field fence with the grand slam from Spilborghs, sending the series and the road trip into the loss column and turning a huge emotional lift into a devastating defeat. "You're still in it," Bochy said. "This is a big swing tonight, but four games back, you're still there. We have to buckle down. We can't let games like this get away. Hopefully we'll get back on track this homestand coming up."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.