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Chatwood makes pitch for Rockies' rotation

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Tyler Chatwood advanced his cause on Saturday night. He would like to stay in the Colorado Rockies' rotation rather than make a few starts in place of an injured pitcher and then go back to Triple-A.

That's what happened last month. Chatwood made two starts in place of Jhoulys Chacin and pitched six scoreless innings in the second. But Juan Nicasio, plagued by high pitch counts, was kept in the rotation when manager Walt Weiss said he wanted to stay with the starters who had opened the season with the Rockies.

In the Rockies' 10-2 win over the San Francisco Giants, Chatwood allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings and threw 99 pitches. The 23-year-old right-hander gave up seven hits and four walks, but he overcame any inefficiency by getting seven outs on ground balls and four strikeouts.

"He gave up a couple hits early that had eyes," Weiss said, "but I never felt Tyler was losing control of the game or the game was getting away from him. I felt like he always had it in check."

Nicasio will start Sunday against the Giants and knows he needs to improve to remain in the rotation. Chatwood, who is pitching in place of injured Jeff Francis, will have two more starts before Francis (left groin strain) is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list May 30 _ not that there is any guarantee he will be ready then.

Asked whether Chatwood, who is 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in his three starts, has wedged his way into the rotation, Weiss said, "We'll figure that stuff out as we go, but Tyler's throwing the ball really well for us. He's been very impressive."

The win gave the Rockies consecutive victories for the first time since April 20 when they won their season-high eighth straight game. They had played 25 games entering Saturday since that streak ended and won for just the fourth time in their past 11 games.

Troy Tulowitzki went 4 for 5 with a two-run single in the three-run eighth. Dexter Fowler, putting a slump behind him, went 3 for 5 with two RBI and three runs scored.

Wilin Rosario drove in three runs, two in the fifth on his ninth homer and the other on an infield single in the seventh. He has seven RBI in his past three games after going 11 games without driving in a run.

The loss was the fourth in five games for the Giants on their road trip that began in Toronto and ends Sunday. They made three more errors, including a costly one by pitcher Tim Lincecum on an errant throw in the three-run third.

The Giants have made 12 errors in their past five games. The last time they made 12 or more errors in five games was April 18-22, 1996, a stretch when they also made five errors.

"This is as tough a stretch as we've gone through," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who held a short pregame meeting to address the defensive shortcomings. "We're not playing well right now. We're still fortunate to be in a good position, but we know it's got to get better here."

Gregor Blanco singled home a run in the second for the Giants, but the Rockies caught a break in that inning. Buster Posey led off with an infield single, took second on a groundout and broke for third on a ball that went through Rosario's legs behind the plate.

The ball rebounded off a plexiglass shield above the backstop directly behind home plate and came back to Rosario, who threw Posey out at third.

"That was completely my fault," Chatwood said. "We just went over the signs, and I completely whiffed it. It was a curveball, and it was supposed to be a fastball. So I crossed him up pretty good. But it worked out."

Not much worked out for Lincecum, who allowed a season-high tying six runs in five innings and hurt himself with a throwing error and a balk.

After a leadoff walk and Fowler's run-scoring double with one out, Lincecum scrambled toward the third-base line to get a ball hit by Josh Rutledge. As Lincecum was moving backward, he made an ill-advised throw that went well beyond first base, allowing Fowler to score and Rutledge to advance to third. He scored on Carlos Gonzalez's grounder.

"Trying to make something there out of what's not possible," Bochy said. "That's what we've got to stop doing, compounding the problem. We've done it a few too many times. It might have caused him to lose a little focus."

With one out in the fourth, Lincecum's spike slipped on the mound, causing him to balk with a runner on first. He gave up a two-out, run-scoring single to Chatwood, who is 5 for 7 this season with four RBI. And with two out in the fifth, Tulowitzki singled and Rosario followed with his homer.

"It was just frustrating," said Lincecum, who matched a season-low five innings for the fourth time in nine starts. "Just not consistently hitting spots, leaving balls up. Kicking the ball around, that was probably the biggest frustrating thing for myself when I knew I could have made that play. After that I didn't collect myself and concentrate. Kind of unraveled."

NOTES: Giants 2B Marco Scutaro went 2-for-4 with a walk as he extended his hitting streak to 17 games. He singled on each of his first two at-bats...The Giants' four errors Friday gave them nine in the first four games on their current road trip and prompted Bochy to call one of his infrequent team meetings before Saturday's game. "I thought I should check in with the club," Bochy said. "That's all it was. We just talked about a few things." Bochy said no players spoke at the meeting and didn't reveal what was discussed. But when he spoke later with reporters, it was obvious that defense was discussed. "Nine errors in four games, 13 in 10 games. That's too much," Bochy said. ... The Giants recalled RHP Jean Machi and optioned 1B Brett Pill to Triple-A Fresno. The move gives the Giants an additional reliever and 13 pitchers on their staff. "We've used these guys quite a bit," Bochy said of the bullpen. "It's fair to say we've gone to them a little earlier than they're accustomed to. We'll see how it goes here for a while with 13 pitchers. I can't tell you how long. Until we get more consistency from the starters, we'll be like this for a while." Machi relieved Lincecum and gave up one run and three hits in two innings as he began his second stint with the Giants this season. He was with them from April 17 to May 7 and in nine games went 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA. At Fresno, he pitched nine scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in seven games. ... Rockies RHP Rob Scahill was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs to make room on the roster for Chatwood, who started Saturday. Scahill was brought up Thursday when LHP Jeff Francis (left groin strain) went on the disabled list and that night pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings against the Giants. The Rockies have 39 players on their 40-man roster. ... Giants 2B Marco Scutaro extended his hitting streak to 17 games. He singled on each of his first two at-bats. ... Bochy said Nick Noonan, who has started just twice in the past 27 games, would start Sunday afternoon at second base. ... Rockies manager Walt Weiss said C Yorvitt Torrealba will start Sunday afternoon, marking the first time he will be in the lineup when struggling Juan Nicasio starts. ... Rockies RF Michael Cuddyer (inflamed cervical disc) resumed baseball activity. He played catch and took swings in the indoor cage. He said the shot he received Tuesday to relieve the stiffness and soreness in his neck began to take effect 48 hours later. Cuddyer expects to come off the 15-day disabled list when he is eligible to do so Friday at San Francisco. Cuddyer is likely to have a brief rehab assignment before then. ... INF Reid Brignac, whom the Rockies designated for assignment Thursday, was traded to the New York Yankees for cash considerations reported to be $75,000. ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jordan Pacheco's grand slam Friday was the fifth hit by the Rockies against the Giants since the Rockies began play in 1993. All five grand slams have come at Coors Field, with Dante Bichette, Preston Wilson, Mark Sweeney and Ryan Spilborghs hitting the others.
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