Cuddyer homers twice as Rockies rally past Giants

Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Cuddyer had faced San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo four times in his career before their head-to-head meeting in the ninth inning Tuesday night.
On three of those occasions, the Colorado Rockies slugger failed to put the ball into the field of play.
It happened for a fourth time Tuesday night at AT&T Park. Only this time, Cuddyer was happy about the result.
Cuddyer deposited a full-count fastball from Romo over the left field fence leading off the ninth, completing the Rockies' rally for a 9-8 win over the Giants in a 4-hour, 2-minute marathon.
"I don't usually sniff Romo," said Cuddyer, who had been 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the matchup. "I just saw the ball and reacted. I was fortunate to get the barrel on it."
In winning for the first time in five games on their current road trip, the Rockies were able to avoid falling into last place in the National League West despite the fact 16-game winner Jorge De La Rosa was pulled after two innings because of soreness in his left thumb.
The Cy Young Award candidate struggled while throwing 56 pitches to 13 batters, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out one.
"He wasn't himself. You could see it right from the beginning," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "The way we battled ... That was a huge win for us. We had a lot of guys contribute."
Hunter Pence's three-run home run in the first inning was the big blow against De La Rosa, who was attempting to equal a franchise record he already shares: wins in seven consecutive starts.
Pence matched his career high with six RBIs, the fifth and sixth coming on a one-out single in the eighth off Wilton Lopez that tied the game at 8-8. Marco Scutaro, who opened the inning with his third hit, and Brandon Belt scored on the play.
The tie didn't last long. After Lopez (3-4) got Pablo Sandoval to ground into a double play to end the Giants' eighth, Cuddyer worked Romo (4-7) to a full count before unloading his 20th homer into the bleachers.
"He hits a home run off one of the toughest closers in the game," Weiss said of Cuddyer. "He's having a heckuva year."
Cuddyer went had three hits and drove in four runs, bringing his season total to 80 RBIs. He raised his average to .33033, second in the National League, a fraction behind the .33039 mark of the Atlanta Braves' Chris Johnson.
Rex Brothers, the seventh Colorado pitcher, earned his 16th save with a scoreless ninth despite allowing an inning-opening infield single to Joaquin Arias and a two-out walk to Angel Pagan.
Both teams had 14 hits in a game that featured 14 pitchers and 20 runners left on base. San Francisco, which led 6-0 after four innings, remained in last place with the loss.
"That's a big win, a character-builder for the future," Cuddyer said. "Long game, but it was fun to see both teams compete like that."
Pence had a run-scoring double as part of a two-run fourth inning against Rockies reliever Jeff Manship that increased the Giants' lead to 6-0. The Giants right fielder went 4-for-5 and joined Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels in the 2013 edition of the 20-homer/20-steal club with his 20th home run.
"My goal going into this season was to play every game as hard as I can to win," Pence said. "I'm grateful that (the 20-20 season) became a product of that process."
Pence had four hits in the loss.
"(Monday) I felt great in (batting practice) and then didn't get any hits. I had a bunch of terrible at-bats," he said. "(Tuesday) I felt terrible in B.P. I joked with (third base coach Tim) Flannery: 'Maybe tonight I'll get some hits.'
"There was some crazy stuff going on."
The Colorado rally began in the top of the fifth as Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong attempted to get through the minimum inning requirement to qualify for a win. He in fact made it through the fifth, but not before watching the Rockies score five times to get back within 6-5.
Corey Dickerson and DJ LeMahieu had RBI singles to ignite the big inning, and Cuddyer capped it with a two-out, three-run homer.
LeMahieu extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Trailing 6-5, the Rockies went ahead for the first time in the sixth. Todd Helton greeted reliever Jose Mijares with a single. Charlie Blackmon's RBI double off Jean Machi drove in Helton to tie the game, and pinch hitter Ryan Wheeler followed with a tiebreaking single, plating Blackmon.
The Giants pinch-hit for Vogelsong in the bottom of the fifth. He gave up five runs on eight hits and two walks in his five-inning stint. He failed to record a strikeout.
NOTES: Rockies pinch hitters Jordan Pacheco, Wheeler and Jonathan Herrera all had hits in the game. ... Interestingly, the lineup the Giants announced before the game -- which also appeared on the center field scoreboard -- had Sandoval batting fifth and Pence sixth. The club made a "correction" shortly before game time, flip-flopping the two. Sandoval went 0-for-3. ... Pence became the seventh Giant in the San Francisco era to achieve 20-20 status, joining CF Willie Mays, 1B Orlando Cepeda, RF Bobby Bonds, OF Glenallen Hill, OF Jeffrey Leonard and LF Barry Bonds. ... De La Rosa's previous shortest stint of the season had been four innings. ... The six-run blown lead was the Giants' largest of the season.

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