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Uncharacteristic troubles fell Rockies in SF

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SAN FRANCISCO -- Right-hander Adam Ottavino has been mostly immune from the Rockies' bullpen woes this season. The offense, at least lately, hasn't been the problem.

But Tuesday night Ottavino saw a 15-inning scoreless streak end -- when he walked in the winning run -- and the offense came up empty in 10 chances with runners in scoring position in a 3-2 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Right-hander Adam Ottavino has been mostly immune from the Rockies' bullpen woes this season. The offense, at least lately, hasn't been the problem.

But Tuesday night Ottavino saw a 15-inning scoreless streak end -- when he walked in the winning run -- and the offense came up empty in 10 chances with runners in scoring position in a 3-2 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park.

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The Rockies dropped their third straight at a time when they need to pick up ground. After being atop the National League West on June 6, they find themselves seven games behind the first-place D-backs. While much of the bullpen has struggled, Ottavino has mostly provided light.

"We need to win games, bottom line," said Ottavino, who just missed with a 3-2 breaking ball to Gorkys Hernandez with two out and the bases loaded in the eighth. "Everybody battled really hard tonight, just came up a little short. We have a lot of fight, though."

Ottavino entered with a 1-1 tie, the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, rebounded from a 3-0 count, but gave up Andrew McCutchen's tying sacrifice fly. Austin Slater barely beat left fielder Gerardo Parra's throw to the plate.

Video: COL@SF: Slater scores on McCutchen's go-ahead sac fly

Ottavino walked three (one intentionally) in the eighth, and still almost escaped. However, he barely missed on the 3-2 breaking ball to Hernandez, and the Rockies dropped the opener of a six-game National League West road trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Ottavino said he thought plate umpire John Tumpane had called a strike for him on one of those pitches earlier in the eighth.

"Obviously, your heart's in that last pitch, but I didn't get it," said Ottavino, who saw his tiny ERA rise to 1.00. "The guy had a good at-bat."

After averaging a little more than six runs per game during a 4-3 homestand, the Rockies never found the important hit.

Giants starter Derek Holland (6 2/3 innings, six hits, one run, eight strikeouts) escaped first and third, no outs in the fifth, and first and second, one out in the sixth. After Ian Desmond doubled in Trevor Story from first against Mark Melancon and took third on the throw home, Giants reliever Tony Watson forced Carlos Gonzalez into a grounder.

Video: COL@SF: Desmond smacks game-tying double in the 8th

In the ninth, after Tom Murphy's bloop double and pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta's one-out walk, DJ LeMahieu grounded into a game-ending double play. The replay review couldn't save the Rockies.

"When you play here, it's a different type of game; it's a tough place to hit, you've gotta get used to that," LeMahieu said. "When you have opportunities, you've got to take advantage of it."

Much good occurred. Righty starter Chad Bettis ended a slump of five games surrendering five or more earned runs by holding the Giants to two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 frames. The big mistake was a 3-1 breaking ball that Hernandez swatted over the center-field wall to open the third. Hernandez has four homers in eight games against the Rockies this year.

"I felt I was able to command the ball where I wanted to for the most part, other than that one pitch to Hernandez, and kept them really off-balance," said Bettis, who has been working on mechanical adjustments and spent time with his former Minor League pitching coach Darryl Scott and Rockies director of pitching operations Mark Wiley -- both of whom are with the club.

Video: COL@SF: Bettis catches McCutchen looking at strike 3

Bettis' work through the first six innings earned him the opportunity to pitch in the seventh with the score tied. The Rockies were put in peril by Slater's leadoff single and pinch-hitter Hunter Pence's dribbler -- one third baseman Nolan Arenado couldn't field in time to make a throw and had to watch kiss off the bag for a fair ball, which Bettis called "something different." But Bettis saw manager Bud Black sticking with him as a positive.

"Buddy came up to me, like, 'Be honest with me, how do you feel?'" Bettis said. "I told him I was all right. He was kind of laughing and was like, 'Old-school style. Good. How much you got, 15 or 20 more?'"

Desmond homered for the 16th time this season, off Holland in the second, and drove in the other run on an eighth-inning double off the glove of a sliding McCutchen in right to tie the game at 2.

"Desi plays a complete game, comes up with some big knocks," Black said.

Video: COL@SF: Desmond clubs solo homer to left field in 2nd

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Holland had some key strikeouts. Fanning Parra for the first out of the fifth with runners at the corners set up a strikeout of Bettis, then a LeMahieu fly. He fanned Desmond with two on and one out in the sixth before forcing a Gonzalez grounder to end that threat.

But he also can thank first baseman Brandon Belt for two key outs.

Holland walked Bettis and gave up a LeMahieu single with one out in the third. Then Charlie Blackmon lined Holland's first pitch hard, but watched in frustration as Belt made a backhand snatch, then stepped on first to double LeMahieu.

Video: COL@SF: Belt gloves line drive, doubles off LeMahieu

SOUND SMART
Ottavino's scoreless streak is the fourth-longest in Rockies history. He holds the record at 16 2/3 innings, from July 5-Aug. 27, 2016. Chris Rusin went 16 1/3 innings from April 13 to Aug. 2, 2016, and Boone Logan went 15 2/3 from April 14 to June 21, 2016.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Murphy's strange leadoff double into short center field ignited the failed rally in the ninth. But Murphy's hit could have been a triple.

Hernandez rushed in from center and slid, but the ball ticked off his glove and rolled away from him. By then, second baseman Joe Panik, shortstop Brandon Crawford and third baseman Pablo Sandoval were all in the middle of the diamond and third was uncovered.

But Murphy, fearing running into an out on a ball hit so shallowly into center, hesitated after rounding first and barely reached second even though third-base coach Stu Cole was waving him to third. Belt was frantically chasing Murphy between first and second.

While it would have been nice to have a runner at third with no one out, Black didn't ding Murphy for not ending up at third on such an odd play.

"There's a lot of chaos going on at that point," Black said. "Rarely do you see that situation occur, where you have three guys covering second base -- the pitcher, the third baseman, the first baseman ends up going there. That's a play you really don't practice as a hitter.

"You hit a blooper, then you hesitate going to second, then you've got to start counting players?"

UP NEXT

Lefty Kyle Freeland (7-6, 3.55 ERA) hopes to keep the ball on the ground, as he has for most of his 15 starts this season, when he faces the Giants and lefty Madison Bumgarner (1-2, 3.20) on Wednesday night. Freeland's 49.8 percent groundball rate ranks 10th in the NL, according to Stats Inc., and he is tied for third in the league with 13 double-play grounders.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Chad Bettis