SAN FRANCISCO--One ninth-inning blow to the chin was tough enough. But in taking another shot to the jaw less than 24 hours later Saturday, the San Francisco Giants officially fell into their first 2014 downward spiral.
A 5-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies was the Giants' fifth loss in six games, and this one was a killer--two outs, nobody on in the top of the ninth, and Sergio Romo looking for all the world as if he were about to redeem himself for Friday night's 7-4 defeat in which he blew a two-run lead and gave up five runs.
Instead, the last out of what would have been a strong 4-3 bounce-back win proved painfully elusive once again. Charlie Blackmon flipped a single into short left field against Romo (3-3), and Brandon Barnes followed with an 0-1 hit to center that got by center fielder Angel Pagan for a two-run inside-the-park homer and eventual Rockies victory at AT&T Park.
Now the Giants have to hope the dispiriting events of the past two games don't set in motion a longer roll of misfortune. They were 35-0 taking leads into the ninth inning before Friday, but now they've taken two straight licks to the psyche. It's a wake-up call, without question.
"We've had so many good things happen to us, we've made some good comebacks, but now we've hit a bump in the road," manager Bruce Bochy said. "So it's going to be important that we handle this well."
The two primary figures in the defeat, Romo and Pagan, seemed be holding up OK. Romo thought for sure the game was in hand when he got an inning-opening groundout and then retired pinch-hitter Troy Tulowitzki on a lazy fly to center.
"I don't feel I could have done much more there," Romo said. "I had two outs, one pitch away again and they found a way to stay alive. I can't take nothing away from (the Rockies). They got me again today. What can I do?"
But not even Romo thought the ball Barnes hit for the game-winner was going to get past Pagan. It didn't appear to be that well struck, and, at worst, it appeared it would be a first-and-third situation and two outs. But then "
"I'm just in disbelief that it happened, particularly the way that it went down," he said.
As for Pagan, who appeared to have Barnes' ball tracked down, he said it was "a cold water bucket for me." To wit, he said it wasn't hit that hard but that it took a weird spin toward right field when it hit the turf.
"I thought it was going to be a normal hop, but it just kind of kicked a little bit to the right, and I couldn't make the catch," he said. "I gave everything I got to make the play, but what happened happened. I couldn't anticipate it.
"There's nothing you can do. You just have to turn the page and come back to tomorrow and try to win a ballgame. These things are going to happen sometimes in baseball."
What remains to be seen if these two tough losses result in a hangover effect. Romo, for one, didn't think so.
"I've failed in back-to-back appearances before, and I've taken back-to-back losses before," he said. "It's nothing new. I just have to stay positive and confident in myself, and I am."
As for the impact on the club, Romo added: "I honestly believe we're the hardest playing team every day. I don't expect that to change the slightest bit. The effort and the confidence is not what we're questioning here. It's literally just the outcome the last couple of days."
The loss spoiled a nice day for Buster Posey, who drove in three runs in a game for the first time in nearly a year with a two-run homer and tiebreaking sacrifice fly. Posey's two-out, two-run homer off Rockies starter Christian Bergman tied the score in the bottom of the fifth. Then, after Pagan and Hunter Pence hit back-to-back singles to put runners at first and third in the seventh, Posey lofted a sacrifice fly to give the Giants the lead.
It was Posey's first three-RBI game since July 12 when he had five against the San Diego Padres. It was his first three-RBI game at home since May 9, 2013, against Atlanta.
By contrast, it was a second straight tough start for Ryan Vogelsong, who wound up allowing seven hits and three runs in his five innings, walking one and striking out two but constantly battling three-ball counts.
"I couldn't get anything going as far as finding something mechanically that was going to work for me," he said. "I was trying to make adjustments every pitch.
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