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Pacheco's surprising slam boosts Rockies

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Jordan Pacheco makes consistent contact, rarely gives away at-bats and in his brief time in the majors with the Colorado Rockies has proved to be a professional hitter.

He has shown the ability to use all fields and drive balls into the gaps. For the second time this season, manager Walt Weiss batted Pacheco eighth on Friday night, knowing the patient Pacheco would not expand the strike zone and do anything out of the ordinary with the pitcher batting behind him.

But with one memorable first-pitch swing in the fifth inning, Pacheco did something rather unexpected, if not downright shocking. He hit his first career grand slam, launching a Madison Bumgarner slider into the stands in left center to highlight a five-run inning that gave the Rockies a four-run lead over the San Francisco Giants in a 10-9 victory.

"He gives you better than a good at-bat," Rockies teammate Todd Helton said. "He usually gives you a great at-bat. There's guys that can hit good pitching. With his approach, he can hit great pitching."

Pacheco went 2 for 4 with a career-high five RBIs, driving in a run on a groundout in the second inning. He had not hit a home run in his first 81 at-bats this season, which was hardly surprising. During his fine rookie season last year, he hit .309 to finish fifth in the National League in batting and lead all NL rookies. But in 475 at-bats, Pacheco, 27, hit only five homers.

"His power will come," Helton said. "He just needs to keep doing what he's doing and learn more about himself and his swing and pitchers."

In a swing that was by no means as jaw-dropping as Pacheco's, Carlos Gonzalez hit his 10th homer in the sixth as the Rockies ended a 10-game losing streak against the Giants. The victory was just the 10th for Colorado in 41 games with San Francisco since the start of the 2011 season and only the sixth in 20 games at Coors Field during that stretch.

The Giants helped the Rockies with some shoddy defense. They made four errors in the first three innings, including two in a three-run third.

"We beat ourselves today," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's pretty simple."

With a runner on first and no out in the second, Bumgarner fielded what looked like a double-play ball from Nolan Arenado but threw the ball into center field, putting runners on second and third. Pacheco's one-out grounder brought home the Rockies' first run.

The Giants defense deteriorated in the third. Eric Young Jr. led off with an infield single. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval making a sprawling stop on a slowly hit ball, but he threw from his knees wildly past first base.

After Dexter Fowler bunted for a hit, Gonzalez singled home a run. Center fielder Angel Pagan tried to throw Fowler out at third and sailed the ball far so beyond the target it landed on the Giants' dugout and hopped into the stands. Fowler scored on the play and Gonzalez ended up at third. Troy Tulowitzki followed Gonzalez with a run-scoring single that tied the score at 4.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," Bochy said. "That's too many errors, particularly in this ballpark where walks and errors kill you. We let them get back in the game because of our mistakes there."

Jorge De La Rosa managed to weave his way through five innings, giving up nine hits and five runs but getting the victory because of the Rockies' five-run uprising in the fifth that put them ahead 9-5.

"I was throwing everything in the middle," De La Rosa said, "making a lot of mistakes in the middle of the plate."

Nonetheless, he fared better than Bumgarner, who left after throwing 102 pitches, the final one to Pacheco, in a season-low 4 2/3 innings.

Bochy sent Bumgarner out for the fifth, knowing his spot in the lineup was going to lead off the sixth. Fowler opened the fifth with a single, and after Gonzalez walked, Wilin Rosario singled home a run. Bumgarner struck out Arenado but walked DJ LeMahieu, bringing up Pacheco.

"He was at the (end) point, I knew it," Bochy said. "I was going to give him the chance there -- one more hitter. It backfired, obviously. It was a tough call, but I was going to give him a chance to get out of it."

Instead, Pacheco ruined that line of reasoning with one swing.

"I don't hit a lot of home runs, but I'm glad I was able to hit the home right there and come through for my time," said Pacheco, who had the home-run ball in a plastic bag and plans to give it to his father when he arrives Saturday. "Madison's a great pitcher. We always struggle off him. He's got a funky motion. I was just looking for a pitch I could drive, and I got one."

Edgmer Escalona relieved De La Rosa and sailed through the sixth but didn't retire any of the three batters he faced in the seventh. He gave up a walk and a triple, and was charged with a wild pitch, even though catcher Rosario moved the wrong way. Brett Pill followed with a double.

Rex Brothers gave up a run-scoring single to pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias, the first batter he faced, cutting the Rockies' lead to 10-8.

With two out and a runner on third, Fowler saved a run by dashing into right center and diving to catch a drive hit by Pagan and short-circuit that rally.

"I knew it was going to be close," Fowler said. "A ball hit like that is going the other way, so that makes it tough."

Matt Belisle gave up a homer to Buster Posey with two out in the eighth, and Hunter Pence followed with a double, lining a ball to right over Young, who made a futile leap. But Belisle got Pill to ground out to end the threat.

Rafael Betancourt struck out the side in the ninth - pinch-hitter Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco -- to post what Weiss called "a tough-guy save." It was Betancourt's 10th save in as many opportunities this season.

NOTES: Giants 2B Marco Scutaro went 3 for 5 to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. ... Pitcher Tyler Chatwood will be activated to start Saturday for the Rockies. Juan Nicasio will be given one additional day of rest and start Sunday. Chatwood, who is replacing injured Jeff Francis in the rotation, last pitched Sunday for Triple-A Colorado Springs. Reliever Rob Scahill is expected to be optioned to Colorado Springs to make room on the roster for Chatwood. Scahill was recalled Thursday when Francis was placed on the 15-day disabled list and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings that night against the Giants. ... Rockies RF Michael Cuddyer (inflammed cervical disc) had no pain Friday, according to trainer Keith Dugger. Cuddyer had gotten back almost full range of motion. He will start play light catch Saturday and maybe take some dry swings. Cuddyer is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on May 24 and Dugger said, "It'll be close." ... Francis (left groin strain) played catch Friday. He said he was "still a bit sore but better than yesterday, which is encouraging." He is eligible to be activated May 30. ... Helton, who was not in the Rockies' lineup, hit his 357th career home run on Thursday, putting him one shy of Hall of Famer Yogi Berra and Carlos Lee, who rank 78th all time. The home run was also Helton's 966th career extra-base hit, which ranks 43rd all time. He is three extra-base hits shy of tying Jeff Bagwell for 42nd all time. ... When the Giants rallied from a 6-0 deficit on Thursday to win 8-6, it was the first time they won a game in which they trailed by six or more runs since Sept. 23, 2005, when they were also down 6-0 to the Rockies at Coors Field and won 7-6.
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