Chacin's eight shutout frames sink Giants
Cuddyer launches two-run homer to extend hit streak to 25 games
DENVER -- Rockies No. 1 pitcher Jhoulys Chacin demonstrated in eight scoreless, three-hit innings in a 4-1 victory over the Giants on Friday night that he has captured the elusive confidence and execution that leads to dominance.
To a greater degree than he has shown at any point of his career, Chacin treated this special feeling as if it could be spread to his teammates. Whatever has helped him to a 1.26 ERA in his last 28 2/3 innings should be passed along. Chacin extended his scoreless inning streak to 15 innings, 1/3 of an inning shy of his career best, April 27 to May 8, 2010.
Chacin expressed his appreciation to teammates when they turned a double play to end the second. He shouted and clapped and gave an appreciative fist pump toward DJ LeMahieu after the second baseman made a diving play on a Brandon Belt grounder to end the fourth with two on. He even said he wanted to come back out for the ninth inning, but made it a point to let teammates know he trusted them.
"I really wanted to show everybody we can win, we can do this," Chacin said. "The offense has been struggling a little bit, but I know what we've got. I don't worry about that. I want to pick it up, throw a good game, give the team a chance to win."
Reliever Rex Brothers yielded a ninth-inning leadoff homer to Buster Posey. Brothers saw his scoreless games streak end at 32 and his scoreless innings streak stop at 30 -- a record for a Rockies reliever, surpassing Gabe White's 29 1/3 in 2000. Ubaldo Jimenez holds the scoreless innings streak at 33 in 2010.
"I want to kick the door down ... I'm not going to say [the streak] wasn't cool to do," Brothers said, smiling. "But in hindsight, it was about getting outs and winning that first game of the series."
Chacin picked the right time to be special.
The Rockies also improved to 5-6 against the Giants this season, including 4-1 at Coors Field. The record is significant because the last two seasons they were 5-13 and 4-14 against the Giants, and nowhere near contention in the division.
The Rockies entered on a 2-8 skid, but nonetheless pulled to three games behind the D-backs, who lead a tight National League West. But Friday's triumph in front of 38,428 at Coors Field began a long streak of games against the West going into the All-Star break.
"It's really the time to do it," Chacin said.
Chacin struck out just three, and during the four-game win streak has had just 11 strikeouts. But that's because he is using his sinker for ground balls, and actively seeking those rather than using more pitches to fan hitters.
"When he's got depth to his two-seamer and he's commanding that, he's really tough," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, who pulled Chacin after 95 pitches under the club's strategy of keeping starters from going to or much over 100 pitches. "He's in a really good place right now."
Chacin, of course, isn't the only one on a roll in purple pinstripes.
Carlos Gonzalez followed LeMahieu's first-inning leadoff single with his 59th RBI on a double off Barry Zito, who fell to 1-5 in his last 12 starts. LeMahieu led off because the Rockies had to scratch Dexter Fowler (right hand) just before first pitch.
Michael Cuddyer extended his club-record hit streak to 25 games with a two-run homer in the third inning off Zito, who gave up 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Cuddyer's hit streak is the longest in the Majors since Jose Reyes, then of the Marlins, hit in 26 straight last July 13 to Aug. 8. Cuddyer also has reached base in a club-record 44 straight games.
Immediately after Cuddyer's homer, his 14th this season and sixth of the streak, catcher Wilin Rosario hit his 13th homer of the year for a 4-0 lead.
"That was a good night all the way around," Cuddyer said.
Cuddyer entered 3-for-17 with two doubles against Zito in his career. Zito called the 2-0 pitch "the big mistake tonight ... that backdoor cutter up in the zone."
Cuddyer isn't missing those pitches.
"I can't really explain, things are just kind of going my way right now," Cuddyer said. "Hopefully, they will continue to, and continue to go the team's way."
Pitching can go a long way toward that.
Saturday afternoon's starter, Jorge De La Rosa, has given up two runs over his last two starts and leads the team with 10 "quality starts" -- six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs. Tyler Chatwood has a sparkling 2.13 ERA in nine starts. Now the Rockies hope veteran Roy Oswalt, after two up-and-down starts, can shake off the rust, and lefty Drew Pomeranz gives the team a lift beginning Sunday, when he comes up from Triple-A Colorado Springs for his first 2013 Rockies start.
Chacin's work Friday could be a blueprint for everyone.
"It's really great to play behind a guy that's rolling ground balls like that -- it keeps everyone on their toes," LeMahieu said.
Chacin's emotion and energy translated to his catcher.
"He gave me a lot of confidence in what I call -- I can pick it up when he feels something, when he wants to throw something," Rosario said. "I feed off him. He's been very good."