DENVER – The Giants don't need a trade. They need a fully charged defibrillator, paddles included.
They still aren't pitching well on the road. But now they’re not hitting, either – even in Coors Field, which is the SAT exam of ballparks. You practically get points for showing up and signing the lineup card here.
Not the Giants, though. It took a home run in the ninth inning from Buster Posey – a momentary puff of room freshener in a stinker of a 4-1 loss -- to keep them from getting shut out for the second consecutive game on Blake Street.
Counting their last visit in May, the Giants hadn't scored in 18 innings at Coors Field before Posey parked one off Rex Brothers in the ninth.
It was one of three hits for Posey. The rest of his bandmates managed one hit all night against Brothers and Jhoulys Chacin. And that's just not going to get it done – especially when Barry Zito is pitching in road grays.
Zito was less than a disaster but won't earn plaudits beyond that for his work in 5 1/3 innings as the Giants matched their season high with their fifth consecutive loss. They’re 38-41 and three-games under .500 for the first time since they started last season 1-4.
Zito is 0-5 in six road starts.
The Giants also fell to 3-9 after a day off. So you can’t use fatigue as an excuse.
Starting pitching report
Giants manager Bruce Bochy wanted Zito and Tim Lincecum to be aggressive and throw strikes on the road. Well, at least they’re listening.
The stuff isn’t finding its way into the catcher’s mitt, though. One game after Lincecum gave up a career-high tying 10 hits, Zito followed suit as the Rockies found his stuff tasty enough in 5 1/3 innings.
The Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when D.J. LeMahieu, a late replacement for Dexter Fowler (right hand) in the leadoff spot, singled, stole second base and scored on Carlos Gonzalez’s double.
Zito pitched out of trouble in the second inning but he got hit hard in the third. Michael Cuddyer picked a heck of a way to extend his hitting streak to a franchise-record 25 games, slugging a two-run home run. Catcher Wilin Rosario made it back-to-back shots.
Nolan Arenado followed with a deep double, although Zito was able to use an intentional walk and a comebacker from pitcher Jhoulys Chacin to avoid further damage.
LeMahieu doubled to drive Zito from the game in the sixth. He allowed four runs (all earned) on 10 hits and two walks, one intentional. And his road ERA actually went down, from 11.28 to 10.41.
He lost this one in novel fashion. Before giving up three of his four runs on homers to Cuddyer and Rosario, Zito had allowed just two home runs in his previous eight starts, and five all season.
Jake Dunning pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, and got a double-play grounder from Gonzalez to avoid sullying up Zito's road ERA any further.
George Kontos pitched out of a jam in the eighth. If it felt like the Giants didn't have a single 1-2-3 inning in the field all game … well, they didn't.
At the plate
The Giants entered the day just 8-for-50 (.160) with runners in scoring position over their last seven games, and it didn’t get any better against Chacin.
They were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and managed just three hits in eight innings despite a warm night and a lively ballpark.
Posey singled in the first inning to extend a streak to 46 consecutive games against the Rockies in which he’s reached base – a remarkable run that encompasses all but his first career game against Colorado. Posey also doubled in the fourth.
But the Giants couldn't advance him and they couldn’t play small ball or start runners while playing from behind.
The Giants do seem to manage to get the tying run to the plate, at least, in the ninth. But that comeback magic that spilled from their top hats in April has deserted them. After Hunter Pence reached on a wild third strike and Andres Torres worked a two-out walk, Brandon Crawford grounded out to end the game.
Crawford also grounded out in the seventh to strand Posey.
Crawford, who was such a good clutch hitter in April, has just one hit in his last 26 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The Rockies were 2-for-2 in stolen-base attempts against Posey, who has thrown out just 11 out of 52 attempts this season (21.1 percent). That’s down from 30 percent last year, 36 percent in 2011 and 37 percent in '10.
The Giants did hit one ball hard with runners on base, but LeMahieu, the second baseman, made a nice stop of Brandon Belt's hot grounder to end the inning.
As for the Giants, the innings just wouldn't end. Pence even prolonged the ninth when he dropped a foul pop in right field with two outs for an error.
The Rockies announced 38,428 paid, and nature provided its own fireworks show in the form of lightning off to the north.
The Giants and Rockies continue their three-game series at Coors Field. Matt Cain (5-4, 4.54 ERA) takes the mound against left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (8-4, 3.19). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PDT.