SAN FRANCISCO--The meltdown was quick and surprisingly painless. Thus is life for the team with baseball's best record.
What happened in the ninth inning of the San Francisco Giants' 7-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Friday night?
"Baseball," said closer Sergio Romo, who was charged with a career-high five earned runs.
Romo was handed a 4-2 lead, but on fireworks night at AT&T Park, the Rockies wasted little time setting off a ninth-inning explosion. Two singles set the stage, and both runners advanced when Angel Pagan made an ill-fated throw to third on a deep fly ball to center. Manager Bruce Bochy showed his faith in Romo's high-wire ability, loading the bases with an intentional walk of Corey Dickerson.
"That's never easy. You hate putting the pitcher in that spot, but here's a guy hitting (.339), so you have the other guys beat you," Bochy said. "Which they did."
There would be no strikeouts from Romo this time, no double play. Pinch-hitter Ryan Wheeler tied the game with a sharp bouncer up the middle. DJ LeMahieu drove the go-ahead run across with a single to center and took second when Pagan bobbled the ball and then threw toward home. LeMahieu later scored on a botched rundown.
"We've been playing so well," Bochy said. "Today we just gave them extra bases and extra runs. It got away from us. These are never fun to be in. We just didn't execute with fundamentals there in the ninth.
"What could go wrong, did go wrong."
Romo has blown three saves in 23 tries this season, two against the Rockies. He has given up nine earned runs in four innings against Colorado but has a 1.93 ERA against the rest of the league.
"You've got to give them credit," Romo said. "I've really got no explanation. I thought I made good pitches and I was trying to compete. I guess it was their night, their inning. I've just got to tip the cap. They got me tonight."
The night got off to such a promising start, with Tim Lincecum giving up just three hits and two earned runs in six innings. Lincecum twice hit 93 mph in the first inning and hit 94 mph, a season-best, while painting a corner and striking out Wilin Rosario in the second.
"I thought he had real good stuff," Bochy said. "He did have good velocity and threw great secondary pitches, too. That's two real nice starts. He should feel good about what he did. It's a shame we couldn't hold on to get him the win."
In two starts on this homestand, Lincecum pitched 12 innings and gave up five runs. After walking 22 in six May starts, he has issued just six free passes in his first three starts of June.
"It was nice to be consistent throughout the outing," he said. "They tell us not to get too excited about good things. I'll just try to ride it."
Michael Morse drove in two runs and Hunter Pence scored twice, but Romo couldn't ride the good vibes when the bullpen handed him a two-run lead. After one of the worst innings of his career, Romo said he was eager to get back on the mound.
"With this team," he said, "I'll get another chance soon."
--Santiago Casilla struck out all three batters he faced in a rehab outing Thursday and was so sharp that he could skip a scheduled two-inning appearance for the San Jose Giants. Bochy said Casilla could be activated this weekend, and would certainly join the club in time for a road trip that starts Tuesday in Chicago. Casilla has been sidelined since May 21 with a right hamstring strain.
--Brandon Belt continues to progress in his recovery from left thumb surgery and has started swinging with both hands, albeit it without a ball. Belt is expected to return to the lineup in early July. Friday's game was Belt's 33rd on the disabled list.
--Bochy said it's likely that Morse and Posey will serve as the designated hitters for next week's two-game series against the Chicago White Sox.
--Brandon Crawford has reached base in 15 of his past 31 plate appearances, but Bochy gave him the night off. Crawford had started 62 of the team's 68 games.
--Juan Gutierrez pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Lincecum. The right-hander has not given up a run in 16 innings at AT&T Park this season.
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