SAN FRANCISCO – It’s been 15 years since a Giant hit 20 home runs and stole 20 bases in a season. And that Giant was Barry Lamar Bonds.
So Hunter Pence accomplished something significant when he blasted his 20th home run of the season high off the left field pole in the first inning Tuesday night.
Along with his 21 steals, the three-run shot put him in a select franchise club with Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays, Jeffrey Leonard, Orlando Cepeda and Glenallen Hill.
And if Pence could pitch a little bit, maybe the Giants would’ve won on a night he finished a triple away from the cycle and matched a career high with six RBI.
Instead, Ryan Vogelsong crashed and burned in a five-run fifth inning, partners in crime Jose Mijares and Jean Machi gave up the rest and Sergio Romo surrendered a tiebreaking home run to Michael Cuddyer – his second of the game -- in the ninth as the Giants lost 9-8 to the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park.
In addition to his three-run shot off Jorge De La Rosa, Pence added an RBI double as they built a six-run lead. And after they blew it, Pence ripped a tying, two-run single in the eighth inning.
This is why Pence is going to get paid this winter: In a game that could only be described as a catastrophic lullaby, Pence maintained his frenetic focus and energy to the end.
It was a long, ugly, sloppy game – even by the last-place Giants’ standards this season. Four hours and two minutes, by the sundial.
Starting pitching report
Vogelsong danced out of one bases-loaded jam and induced two double plays to take a shutout into the fifth inning.
Just like his last start, though, when it went bad, it went bad fast. Vogelsong only cracked 90 mph twice all night and his stuff went from tame to set on a tee in the fifth inning, as the Rockies pounded him for five runs.
Nolan Arenado singled on a fastball. Jordan Pacheco doubled on a changeup. Corey Dickerson singled on a first-pitch changeup. And the Rockies kept swinging early in the count. D.J. LeMahieu singled on a 1-0 slider.
At least Vogelsong got a BABIP out when Troy Tulowitzki hit a lineout to third baseman Pablo Sandoval. But there was no catching the 0-1 curve he lobbed up there to Cuddyer, who ripped it into the left field bleachers for a three-run home run.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy stuck with Vogelsong, even as the five-run rally stole away most of a six-run lead. But the right-hander finally escaped, and qualified for the victory, when he got Wilin Rosario to ground out.
It was just the second time in Vogelsong’s career that he completed five innings without striking out a batter. The last time came nearly a decade ago -- Sept. 29, 2004, for the Pirates at Philadelphia.
Not only did Vogelsong not record a strikeout, but he only induced two swings and misses on his 80 pitches – neither of them on fastballs. Charlie Blackmon swung through a changeup and Todd Helton swung through a curve.
The watered down stuff is not just a two-start phenomenon for Vogelsong, who perhaps unwisely followed up a World Series run by pitching at high intensity in the World Baseball Classic in March.
Entering his start Tuesday, opponents were batting .342 against him the second time through the order, with 15 of the 39 hits going for extra bases.
Vogelsong’s decision went up in a Mijares/Machi poof.
Bochy said earlier in the week that he would stay away from Mijares, who had allowed 14 runs in his last 14 innings while leading all major league relievers with 19 inherited runners scored.
But Bochy went to Mijares anyway to start the sixth and Helton lined a single. Jean Machi entered and made a mess of it, giving up a tying double to Charlie Blackmon and a go-ahead pinch single to Ryan Wheeler.
George Kontos issued a walk to load the bases before finally retiring Helton on a comebacker to end an inning that lasted so long you almost needed to reach for your canned goods and solar blankets.
Kontos elicited one of the biggest cheers of the night when he recorded the Giants’ first strikeout and a fan posted the first K on the right field arcade in the seventh inning. The Giants actually had a zero-strikeout game June 5 vs. the Toronto Blue Jays (Barry Zito, Mijares and Machi). Prior to that, it hadn’t happened since 2007.
Michael Kickham was charged with a run in the eighth after allowing two singles, one on an obstruction call while he tried to cover first base, and Jake Dunning gave up a sacrifice fly to give the Rockies an 8-6 lead.
After the Giants rallied, Romo (4-7) entered a tie game at home, which is straight out of the manager’s playbook for how to use your closer. He gave up his fifth homer of the season, and Cuddyer’s 20th, to take the loss.
At the plate
The Giants knocked out De La Rosa, a 16-game winner, after just two innings because of a bruised thumb.
Angel Pagan once again provided a spark with a leadoff double and Buster Posey, who owns terrific numbers against De La Rosa, drew a two-out walk. Pence laid off a couple chase pitches, and with the count full, he jumped on a slider that clanked off the post.
Pence is just 2 for 12 in his career against De La Rosa; both hits are three-run homers.
The Giants kept up the pressure in the second inning. Pagan singled and Marco Scutaro, who is so much more valuable when the leadoff man gets on in front of him, hit an RBI double.
The Giants added two more runs in the fourth, and once again, Pagan helped to start the rally. He walked, Scutaro singled to right field, Buster Posey hit an RBI single and Pence followed with an RBI double to make it 6-0.
Down 8-6, Scutaro singled and Brandon Belt doubled in the eighth to put the tying runs in scoring position with no outs. Posey couldn’t drive either of them home, hitting a ground out to third base on the first pitch. But Pence came through again, and gave first base coach Roberto Kelly an emphatic high five after lining his two-run single to right field.
It was his fourth hit of the game.
But the Giants couldn’t find another hero against Rockies closer Rex Brothers. Joaquin Arias reached on an infield single to start the ninth, but Brett Pill dribbled out to third base, Tony Abreu struck out and after Pagan drew a walk, Scutaro sharply grounded out to second base.
The seagulls arrived in a massive flock around 10:30 p.m., expecting to find the stands vacant and a feast of garlic fries and hot dog buns. It was only the seventh inning. They were confused. They weren’t the only ones.
The Giants announced 41,171 paid. They say the sellout streak is alive and well at 240 regular-season games. You and I know better.
The Giants complete their seven-game homestand as well as their three-game series with the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. Yusmeiro Petit (3-0, 2.05 ERA), who came within a strike of a perfect game on Friday, takes the mound against right-hander Juan Nicasio (8-7, 4.68). First pitch is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. PDT.