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Senzatela cruises as Rockies romp past Giants

MLB.com

DENVER -- For Rockies rookie right-hander Antonio Senzatela, facing the Giants spurs growth. On Saturday night -- for the second time in a week -- Senzatela threw seven stellar innings while shutting down the Giants, this time in a 12-3 victory at Coors Field.

After being fastball-dominant early in Sunday's 4-3 victory at AT&T Park, Senzatela said he worked on the "chop," or the downward break, of his slider. This time he mixed his best slider of the season early, plus he threw a small number of effective changeups.

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DENVER -- For Rockies rookie right-hander Antonio Senzatela, facing the Giants spurs growth. On Saturday night -- for the second time in a week -- Senzatela threw seven stellar innings while shutting down the Giants, this time in a 12-3 victory at Coors Field.

After being fastball-dominant early in Sunday's 4-3 victory at AT&T Park, Senzatela said he worked on the "chop," or the downward break, of his slider. This time he mixed his best slider of the season early, plus he threw a small number of effective changeups.

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"As you move on as a player, there are no secrets in this game," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He's got a nice heartbeat, and he's a competitor, and he's got stuff. He's got to put it in the right spots."

Supported by home runs from Mark Reynolds, for two runs in the first, and Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon, who had solo shots in the fourth, Senzatela (3-0) held the Giants to four hits and struck out three.

Video: SF@COL: Reynolds mashes a two-run homer to left

It was more Coors Field misery for Giants starter Matt Moore (1-3), who coughed up all the homers while yielding nine hits and six runs in four innings. In three starts at Coors, Moore is 0-2 with a 12.34 ERA and seven home runs in 11 2/3 innings. The Giants threatened with Brandon Belt's RBI double and Joe Panik's RBI single in the eighth. But the Rockies answered with six runs in the bottom of the frame.

Video: SF@COL: Rockies erupt for six runs in the 8th

The Giants' 6-12 start matches their worst showing in their first 18 games since 1990. Manager Bruce Bochy insisted the club's starting pitching must improve for the Giants' fortunes to turn.

"We're not doing a good job with that," Bochy said. "We're a much better staff than what's happening. We have to tighten it up and wake up. We're not a team that goes out and pounds it with you. We have to pitch."

• Stratton brings relief to Giants' pitching staff

The Rockies had gone a club record-tying 17 games without reaching double figures in runs until Saturday. More importantly, the big eighth inning allowed Black to not use Adam Ottavino or closer Greg Holland.

"We did a good job to bounce back, put up a crooked number and hopefully give some of those guys in the 'pen a rest," Blackmon said. "Those guys have been throwing so well."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The first of many zeros: First innings had been toughest for Senzatela. In his initial start, at Milwaukee, he escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam with no runs scoring, but in his next he yielded a leadoff homer and against the Giants last Sunday he allowed three first-inning runs before finishing with six scoreless frames. But after Belt doubled with one out in the first Saturday, Senzatela coolly worked a fly ball from Panik (after throwing fastballs on most previous pitches), then extracted a sharp, inning-ending grounder from Buster Posey. The Giants didn't score until Panik's homer with two out in the sixth.

Video: SF@COL: Panik crushes a solo homer to right

This dude faces a good lefty every day: To say Blackmon was ready for Moore was an understatement. Blackmon jumped on Moore's first strike for a triple down the right-field line to open the bottom of the first. He hit a scorching fly ball in the second that Giants center fielder Denard Span caught -- while crashing into the wall and suffering what the team called a mild right shoulder sprain. Blackmon's third at-bat, with two down in the fourth, resulted in a 422-foot homer to straightaway center. Turns out part of Blackmon's ritual, no matter whether the opposing starter is a lefty, is taking batting practice off a pretty good left-hander in his own right -- Black.

Video: SF@COL: Blackmon belts homer to straightaway center

QUOTABLE
"I've been doing a lot of running. I could go for less running. ... It's way better to hit it over the fence than clank it around in the corner." -- Blackmon, who hit a two-run, inside-the-park homer Friday night and had to leg out the early triple Saturday before hitting a traditional homer.

Video: SF@COL: Blackmon drills triple down right-field line

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Story's at-bats can be entitled "Feast or Famine Theater." Over his last eight games, Story is 5-for-30 with four home runs, one double, eight RBIs and 17 strikeouts.

Video: SF@COL: Story smashes solo home run to left

FINDING THE FASTBALL IN TIME
The Giants cut the deficit to 6-3 in the eighth and had two on for Brandon Crawford against righty reliever Carlos Estevez, who put the runners at second and third with a wild fastball. Estevez, who said that as a rookie last year he would "spend a full inning sometimes throwing those [wild] fastballs," worked his way into the count with changeups, then struck Crawford out on a 96.6 mph fastball that grazed the bat.

"These are the big leagues," Estevez said. "You have to make adjustments quickly."

Video: SF@COL: Estevez fans Crawford to escape jam in 8th

WHAT'S NEXT
Giants: San Francisco's two-city trip ends Sunday with a 12:10 p.m. PT encounter against Colorado. Right-hander Jeff Samardzija will start for the Giants, who might load the lineup with right-handed batters against opposing left-handed starter Kyle Freeland.

Rockies: Freeland limited runs but ran up his pitch count and lasted just four innings in a 4-3 victory over the Dodgers in his last outing. Freeland will make his third start at Coors Field -- in his hometown -- in the finale of the three-game set with the Giants on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. MT.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

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

Charlie Blackmon, Matt Moore, Mark Reynolds, Antonio Senzatela, Trevor Story