SAN FRANCISCO -- It should have been Troy Tulowitzki at the plate, but it wasn't.
Sidelined in a freak accident just minutes before, the Rockies' star shortstop could only watch helplessly as Chris Nelson took the plate with the bases loaded, down by one with two outs in the ninth inning.
We'll never know what Tulowitzki might have done with the crucial at-bat, but we know what Nelson did. He grounded out to third base, sending the Rockies to a 3-2 defeat against the Giants, their ninth loss in 10 contests.
"I was just watching the game thinking about I would be up with the bases loaded in this situation," Tulowitzki said. "Everything's kind of coming at us -- a lot at one time."
Standing on the top step of the visitor's dugout in the seventh, Tulowitzki was drilled by a line-drive foul ball off the bat of Dexter Fowler. Tulowitzki limped to the on-deck circle, then the plate, then to first base after reaching on an infield single. But he didn't want to risk it from there, as Nelson came in to pinch-run.
Cruel poetic justice was realized in the game's final moments, as Carlos Gonzalez was intentionally walked to bring up Nelson, the game's last batter.
"Bad luck," Tulowitzki said.
Tulowitzki had an X-ray taken shortly after the game and it came back negative, revealing no broken bones. It was deemed to be a contusion on the head of his left fibula near his knee by the team medical staff, while Tulowitzki called himself day to day. The ball also struck a nerve near Tulowitzki's knee and caused his foot to go temporarily numb.
"Your stomach kind of drops. He's the leader of the team," said southpaw Christian Friedrich, who turned in a stellar effort in his second big league start.
In a continuing trend for the Rockies, they weren't able to put together a good offensive performance on an evening when they received strong starting pitching. Friedrich worked quickly and kept the Giants off balance with a mix of his sharp fastball and hard-to-find breaking pitches. In all, the 24-year-old lefty finished seven innings, allowing an earned run on six hits and one walk while striking out 10.
Asked for a description of Friedrich's effort Monday night, Giants manager Bruce Bochy simply offered, "Like Koufax."
Friedrich earned his promotion from Triple-A Colorado Springs last week and picked up a victory in San Diego for his opening act. For Act 2, he only suffered one blemish: giving up a homer to Gregor Blanco to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning.
For Colorado manager Jim Tracy, wasting Friedrich's strong start was the roughest part of his team's latest defeat.
"Tough game to lose," Tracy said. "That's as good a starting pitching performance as we've had all year long. He was phenomenal."
Friedrich has given up just two earned runs in 13 innings of Major League work, but he's keeping a level head throughout the early success. Looking at the way his curveball and slider fooled the Giants on Monday night, perhaps one would think a third big league start is in the works, but he's not convinced yet.
"I hope so, but that's not up to me," Friedrich said. "I'm just going to keep on going out there every time they give me the call."
Friedrich couldn't have pitched better through the first three innings, retiring each of the nine batters he faced. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Ryan Vogelsong, issued five walks and needed 67 pitches to complete his initial three frames.
But despite having seven men reach base by the end of the third inning, the Rockies didn't push across a run until Wilin Rosario delivered a no-doubt shot deep into the left-field bleachers to lead off the fourth. That's the only offense the Rockies could muster before the ninth, as they left 11 men on base and were doomed by a late rally from the Giants.
San Francisco tied things up at 1 with Blanco's blast in the sixth before a thrilling eighth inning. Giants setup man Sergio Romo struck out Michael Cuddyer with a heavy slider with runners on second and third to end the Colorado threat, setting up the game-winning sequence in the bottom of the frame.
Rockies reliever Matt Belisle, who entered the game with a 2.12 ERA, gave up a pair of RBI singles to the Giants before there was more drama in the ninth inning. The Rockies took advantage of a Joaquin Arias error and scored a run to make it 3-2, but the game reached a fever pitch as Giants closer Santiago Casilla ultimately retired Nelson and the Rockies.
Since hovering around the .500 mark to start the season, the current tailspin has dropped Colorado's record to 13-21 on the year, 10 1/2 games back of the National League West-leading Dodgers.
"You can't be disappointed with this effort," Tracy said. "You're disappointed with the outcome because we played a good ballgame."
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.