No relief for Belisle in Rockies' loss to Giants
Cuddyer takes over NL batting lead; Ottavino comes through nicely
SAN FRANCISCO -- The trials continue for Rockies veteran relief pitcher Matt Belisle.
Trusted with a one-run lead, Belisle was touched for two runs in the eighth inning as the Giants took a come-from-behind 4-3 victory at AT&T Park on Wednesday afternoon.
One of the Rockies' most dependable players over the last four seasons, Belisle (5-7) has given up runs in each of his last six appearances and earned runs in five of those. While much of his slump has involved hard-hit balls, Wednesday he gave up four singles, plus an intentional walk. But with the bases loaded and one out, Marco Scutaro tied the game with a single and Brandon Belt singled in the winning run.
Belisle punched the air in frustration after the Belt single but escaped the inning by forcing a grounder from Hunter Pence to shortstop Jonathan Herrera, who cut down a runner at the plate. Belisle ended it by fanning Pablo Sandoval to end a 10-pitch at-bat and a season-high 36-pitch inning.
In his six-game slump, he has a 16.69 ERA (eight earned runs in 5 1/3 innings), has given up 18 hits and has seen his season ERA rise from 3.88 to 4.63.
"I try not to break it down too much, overanalyze it or complicate it," Belisle said. "Obviously, something is going on where a lot of hits are falling, because it's not that easy to get hits, right? But it sure seems like it is against me right now.
"It may be a time to approach this by asking some of my offensive guys. Maybe I'm too predictable. Maybe I'm flying open and it's a flaw. But I'm still going at them with everything I have and my confidence is unwavering. I feel really good with a page turned and ready to fight that day."
Belisle has made 297 appearances since the start of the 2010 season as the Rockies' primary right-handed setup man -- the most of any reliever in baseball. He had a 2.93 ERA in 2010, 3.25 in 2011 and 3.71 last season. Belisle and manager Walt Weiss have said repeatedly fatigue is not a factor.
"He's just going through a tough spot right now, but I talked to Matty a couple days ago and physically he feels good," Weiss said. "He's going through a tough spot. He needs a couple good outings to get his confidence back. His velocity feels good. His stuff looks good. He's setting some balls on the plate and getting hit, not getting away with much."
Belisle's nightmare erased a day in which the Rockies were in position to win because of Michael Cuddyer's consistency, Nolan Arenado's clutch work and some skin-of-the-teeth pitching by starter Juan Nicasio and reliever Adam Ottavino.
Nicasio escaped two bases-loaded jams in five innings, during which he gave up five hits and four walks but limited the Giants to one run. Ottavino came on with a 3-1 lead after Josh Outman walked three batters to open the seventh. The only run scored on Pence's sacrifice fly.
The Rockies have been trying Ottavino in later innings in recent games. He was tagged with the 3-2 loss to the Giants on Monday night.
"I was disappointed the other night, not only because I lost the game but I know that I'm kind of auditioning to maybe get promoted next year," Ottavino said. "Every time that I succeed in this new job, that's a good thing for me. I'm just trying to make pitches, put my best foot forward and hopefully they keep trusting me."
Cuddyer entered Wednesday in a virtual tie with the Braves' Chris Johnson for the National League batting lead and went 3-for-4 to push his average to .334. Arenado drove in runs with singles in the fourth and sixth. The fourth-inning RBI came with two out, as have 24 of his 49 RBIs this season. Charlie Culberson added a sixth-inning RBI single.
The series ended with the Rockies (67-80) just a half-game ahead of the last-place Giants (66-80) in the NL West -- not exactly the type of race that causes goosebumps in September. Nonetheless, they managed a spirited series.
"I think we're a competitive bunch, whether it's us or the Rockies," said Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, whose eighth-inning leadoff single began the rally. "We want to win, no matter what the standings say."
The Rockies, hoping to avoid their second straight last-place finish, are 1-5 on a road trip that concludes with three games at Arizona starting Friday. But Weiss didn't fault the intensity or effort in San Francisco.
"I like the fact that we're down the stretch here and our guys are showing up and competing to the last out," Weiss said. "I told our guys that sometimes the reward you get for competing hard is you get your heart broken."
All of the Rockies' runs came off Giants starter Yusmeiro Petit, who didn't face a baserunner until two were out in the fourth but ultimately gave up three runs on six hits. He fanned seven and walked two.
Petit turned the game over to a strong bullpen effort. Guillermo Moscoso (2-2) earned the win with two one-hit innings and Santiago Casilla pocketed his second save.