Herrera shines as Rockies top Lincecum
Second baseman drives in three in win against Giants ace
DENVER -- A knockout punch doesn't have to be violent if the opponent is sufficiently dazed, as the Rockies' Jonathan Herrera proved on Friday night.With a one-run lead over the Giants in the eighth, Dexter Fowler delivered an RBI double, then Herrera added his third RBI of the ninth on a suicide squeeze bunt that scored Clint Barmes. A tense game turned into a comfortable 6-3 victory before the sixth sellout of the season at Coors Field (48,127). While winning 10 of their last 14 games -- all since potential All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki suffered a fractured left wrist -- the Rockies have scored in the eighth or ninth inning 10 times, 20 runs total. It's the type of offense that was missing early when the Rockies teetered around .500. Now they're suddenly a season-best six games above, as well as four games behind the National League West-leading Padres and a half-game behind the second-place Dodgers. The Rockies scored three eighth-inning runs in Thursday night's 7-3 victory over the reeling Giants, who have lost seven straight. "That is a serious pin in the balloon if you're the team that's trailing and the other team hits you with a couple more [runs]," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. Hoping to drive more air from the Giants, the Rockies are sending ace Ubaldo Jimenez (14-1) to the mound, against Barry Zito, for Saturday's third game of the four-game series. "I've seen crazier things in this game," said the Giants' Aubrey Huff, who homered twice to account for all Giants runs. "When you're really down and out and you face a guy like this, you never know what might happen. This could be the exact guy we need to get out of it." Herrera's bat-handling was one reason he was called up from Triple-A last month. He became the regular second baseman when Tulowitzki suffered a broken left wrist and Clint Barmes moved from second to short. "We worked on it a lot in Spring Training, and I know Jim and what he likes to do in those situations," said Herrera, who went 2-for-3 and tied a career high with three RBIs, including the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the sixth. The Rockies outpointed Giants ace Tim Lincecum (8-4), winner of the last two NL Cy Young Awards but not a successful pitcher against the Rockies. Lincecum fell to 5-5 and the Giants dropped to 5-8 in his career starts against the Rockies. Leadoff men reached five times in Lincecum's six innings (four runs, nine hits, four walks, four strikeouts). "He makes you chase a lot of pitches, you've just got to get a good pitch to hit and not miss it," said Fowler, who went 3-for-3 with a triple, a double, a walk and two runs. Huff went deep for two runs in the first inning and one in the third against Rockies rookie starter Jhoulys Chacin (5-7), who otherwise controlled the Giants. Chacin went six innings, gave up three runs on five hits, walked two and struck out five. The first three Giants, including Huff, jumped on Chacin's first pitch, hoping to avoid his secondary pitches. Chacin changed his strategy, yet didn't lose fastball command. He is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA, with 22 strikeouts to 10 walks, in his last three starts. Barmes tied the game with his seventh home run of the season, for two runs off Lincecum in the second. Fowler tripled to open the fifth and scored on Herrera's second hit of the game, an infield single, for a 3-2 lead. After Huff's second homer forged a 3-3 tie, Ian Stewart doubled and Lincecum walked Brad Hawpe and Fowler to set up Herrera's sacrifice fly in the sixth. The two-run eighth made it easier for Huston Street to earn his second save of the season, since coming back from right shoulder and right groin problems. The Rockies' lineup is missing more than Tulowitzki. Hawpe pinch-hit but didn't start in right field for the sixth time in seven games because of bruised ribs, and first baseman Todd Helton didn't start for the third time in five games as he works though back problems. "It's been kind of a crazy year that way, but that just goes to show how deep we are with talent," Barmes said.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.