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Bullpen can't back Rockies offense vs. Giants

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SAN FRANCISCO -- All the Rockies' grinding and scratching and manufacturing Sunday afternoon was wiped away with two swings. Red-hot Brandon Belt's three-run homer, followed by Nick Hundley's solo shot, off Jake McGee in the seventh gave the Giants a 9-5 victory at AT&T Park.

The Rockies left town with a split of the four-game set and are 3-3 on a road trip that ends with three games at Dodger Stadium starting Monday. But Sunday stung for several reasons, beyond the fact they could have finished the day in first place in the National League West after the D-backs lost:

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SAN FRANCISCO -- All the Rockies' grinding and scratching and manufacturing Sunday afternoon was wiped away with two swings. Red-hot Brandon Belt's three-run homer, followed by Nick Hundley's solo shot, off Jake McGee in the seventh gave the Giants a 9-5 victory at AT&T Park.

The Rockies left town with a split of the four-game set and are 3-3 on a road trip that ends with three games at Dodger Stadium starting Monday. But Sunday stung for several reasons, beyond the fact they could have finished the day in first place in the National League West after the D-backs lost:

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• An offense that has rightfully been maligned for low outputs all season hung in the game with 13 hits among their well-grinded-out at-bats. Trevor Story had three hits and two RBIs. Nolan Arenado, being pitched so carefully that he's gone 13 games without a homer and has one extra-base hit in seven games, managed three singles and an RBI. Rookie Noel Cuevas drove in two runs, one on a bases-loaded walk, and is hitting .306 in 22 games since being promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Video: COL@SF: Cuevas lines an RBI single up the middle

• Righty Bryan Shaw, who had struck out 13 against six baserunners in his previous eight games, gave up a two-run Kelby Tomlinson triple with two out in the sixth and yielded a hit and a walk in the seventh before McGee entered.

• McGee had been scoreless for five of his previous seven outings and threw two strong innings in a Rockies victory over the Giants on Thursday night. But Belt -- on a 15-for-32 run with five home runs in his last eight games -- launched McGee's second pitch over the right-field wall. Hundley's homer came with the count full.

Video: COL@SF: Belt, Hundley rip back-to-back homers in 7th

But a key difference was the Rockies' inability for a game-breaking hit. The Rockies spent most of their two-run fifth with the bases loaded, but it ended with Carlos Gonzalez -- scuffling at .219 -- looking at a full-count slider from Cory Gearrin that caught the outside corner.

"We had some chances for sure to add on. We didn't do it. ... We couldn't get the big blow, which is sort of the opposite of what the Giants did," Rockies manager Bud Black said.

Video: COL@SF: Gearrin K's Gonzalez to avoid further damage

Rockies starter Tyler Anderson gave up five runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, but may have deserved better. The Rockies led, 4-1, in the fifth, when Gorkys Hernandez's fly ball to center caught a breeze and sailed over the 399 mark in center over the glove of a leaping Charlie Blackmon.

Video: COL@SF: Hernandez crushes a 2-run homer to center

"Sometimes this place plays really big, and then sometimes in the day games it plays a bit smaller. … It looked like Chuck had a bead on it and he just kept drifting back and back," Anderson said.

Anderson's work still might've been good enough for a winning effort, but the Giants had their big hits against Shaw and McGee, who each signed three-year, $27 million contracts with the Rockies during the offseason. After some difficulty, both had been looking like themselves recently.

"At the end of the day, it's going to happen here and there," McGee said. "Bullpens falter here and there. We can't be perfect. But as long as we're better than we are bad, it's a good thing."

The last nine games have been an interesting time for the Rockies' offense.

Three games were rough: They were no-hit for 5 1/3 innings last Sunday by the Brewers, Padres righty Jordan Lyles took a perfect game into the eighth on Tuesday and the Rockies managed but one hit, and the Rockies needed all of 12 innings to manage seven hits against the Giants on Thursday, although they won.

But the other games in that stretch have shown better at-bats. That was the case Sunday, when Story doubled in a fourth-inning run off Giants starter Ty Blach.

Video: COL@SF: Story plates Arenado with double off the wall

The Rox loaded the bases in the fifth, then Story pushed an RBI infield hit and struggling Chris Iannetta (.212) popped out, Cuevas drew his run-scoring walk, then Gonzalez took the killer strikeout.

"It's just that one hit that we need to bust us loose, and we'll have more room to work with," Story said.

The Rockies tied it at 6 in the top of the seventh. Ian Desmond, who has a .175 season batting average but had a productive series against the Giants, walked, stole second and took third on catcher Hundley's throwing error, and scored when Arenado dribbled a single through the middle with the count full. But Belt and Hundley took control in the bottom of the frame.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
On Pat Valaika's fourth-inning double, Cuevas tried to score from first as third-base coach Stu Cole waved him home. Cuevas had to shorten his steps at third but nearly made it. However, Crawford took the throw from Hernandez in short left and delivered a pinpoint throw. Hundley tagged Cuevas on the left arm before his hand could slap the plate.

Video: COL@SF: Crawford relays home to throw out Cuevas

"When I saw the video of the throw, I could not believe it," Cuevas said. "From all the way over there, he was able to put it right there."

"I think i could've done a better job of going straight to home plate. My slide was not the best. I'm learning. I've had a couple of those in the big leagues, and the difference is they're pretty darn good."

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Story has a signature play at shortstop -- the spin throw from behind the bag. But Sunday, he did a credible imitation of the last guy to play shortstop in purple, Troy Tulowitzki. Story's strong, across-the-body throw to retire a diving Hernandez and end the second with two on saved a run.

"I worked on that play a lot with [Tulowitzki], and just growing up trying to make that play like [Derek] Jeter," Story said.

The play was originally ruled an infield single, which would have let Austin Jackson score from third base, but replay reversed the call.

Video: COL@SF: Story nabs Hernandez after overturned call

UP NEXT
Righty German Marquez (2-5, 5.15 ERA), who gave up two first-inning runs but no more in his five less-than-efficient innings against the Padres in his last start, will carry a 2.25 road ERA into Monday night's start against the Dodgers and righty Walker Buehler (2-1, 267). Marquez pitched twice against the Dodgers -- one a quality start -- last year as a rookie. However, Marquez must address a 13.50 first-inning ERA.

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, Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw