DENVER -- For the second night in a row, the enduring image of the Rockies game was a Giants center fielder dangling from the fence after a futile leap failed to contain another Blake Street blast from leaving the yard.
Tuesday night it was pinch-hitter Ryan McMahon with the late-inning heroics, tying the game with a home run and -- four batters later -- Carlos Gonzalez, who knocked a bases-loaded triple to the left-center gap that sent San Francisco center fielder Gorkys Hernandez scrambling to catch up with the ball as it careened off the fence and unloaded the Rockies' LoDo mojo on the Giants for a decisive 6-2 win to clinch the series victory.
The win kept the Rockies (76-62) in sole possession of first place in the National League West, a half game ahead of the Dodgers, who beat the Mets on Tuesday in Los Angeles, and a game and a half up on the D-backs, who defeated the Padres in Arizona. Colorado also claimed the NL's second seed from Atlanta (76-62) by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Rockies won the season series against the Braves, 5-2.
"It's just a really good group, especially the contribution that we're getting from the young guys," Gonzalez said of the team's 40th come-from-behind win of the season. "Yesterday it was [Noel] Cuevas and tonight it was McMahon again with a huge home run to tie the game. After that we were able to keep the momentum going to load the bases. It was exactly what we planned."
After managing only a lone run in the first six frames, the Rockies exploded for five in the seventh. McMahon hit in the pitchers spot with one out and nobody on, knocking his fifth round-tripper of the season. It was his second pinch-hit homer this year and the sixth for the Rockies.
"Honestly I'm just trying to go up there, get a knock for the team, get the next guy up there," McMahon said. "It's been working out a little bit. I'm just glad I could help the team."
McMahon's game-tying homer was the spark that lit the Rockies' fuse, as Charlie Blackmon reached on an infield single and DJ LeMahieu walked before reliever Reyes Moronta let loose with a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third. The Giants elected to intentionally walk Nolan Arenado, setting up Gonzalez's three-run opposite-field triple.
Over the last couple of seasons, Gonzalez has faced extreme shifts defensively against him, but he's been making teams pays for it of late, and Tuesday night was Exhibit A.
"When they have the shift on you, it's really hard to keep your hands in and shift the ball the other way," Gonzalez explained. "Obviously when they give you a good pitch down and away, it's the perfect pitch to use your hands and use that side of the field. That at-bat tonight was rough, because I knew he was going to come in with sinkers. He got me 0-2 and then I made my adjustment.
"I moved a little farther away from the plate and I gave him the outside corner. I knew he was going to try to go out there and throw that slider, and he missed over the plate, because now that I'm farther off the plate, it's more difficult to throw inside, because the ball inside is going to look more difficult because I'm away. In my mind I wasn't trying to pull the ball, I was just trying to use the big part of the field. A lot of times you have that approach, but the perfect pitch never shows up. On that at-bat it did."
The Rockies refused to relent, as Trevor Story was issued a free pass by Ty Blach and Sam Dyson walked the bases loaded, then walked in a run before McMahon struck out to end the frame.
Much of the game was a pitchers' duel, with the Giants scoring in the top of the first after Gregor Blanco hit a leadoff single to left, stole second and scored on Joe Panik's single. The Rockies countered in the second with a leadoff homer from David Dahl, and the game was knotted at 1-1 until Hernandez's towering solo shot over the left-center fence in the seventh.
Colorado got a brilliant performance from starting pitcher German Marquez, who threw 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out 11.
"He threw the ball great, especially the fastball," said manager Bud Black. "The fastball had life down in the zone, good location, some low bullets, mixed in some breaking balls. Into the seventh inning, two runs, obviously we'll take that every single game from every one of our starters and we'll take our chances."
It was his fifth career game with double-digit strikeouts, and his third of the season, following his career-best 13-strikeout game against San Diego last week. Marquez is second in the Majors with 78 strikeouts since the All-Star break.
"I just want to put them away as quickly as possible, and if it happens to be with a strikeout, then so be it," Marquez said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Dahl's defense: Dahl's second-inning solo homer stood up as the only Rockies run until their big seventh inning. Almost as big as that run was a defensive play Dahl made in the top of the eighth, snaring a potential extra-base hit from Brandon Crawford with a long run to the foul line and a diving, sliding catch to seal a shut-down inning that kept the Giants from rekindling any life in their bats after the Rockies' rally.
"The diving play in left field was a big one," Black said. "I told David, 'Those are the types of plays that we need from you.' Because he's capable. He's got speed to run those balls down. We need him to play with that aggressiveness on defense."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the midst of the tense pitchers' duel part of the game, Tony Wolters let go of his bat during a fourth-inning swing with a two outs and a man on second, sending it flying to the Rockies dugout. Gerardo Parra feigned anger with his teammate, then launched a sky-high bat flip to toss it back to Wolters, who made a clean catch for a moment of ice-breaking levity.
"I suspect that when we all go home tonight and watch highlights, we'll see that one, and hopefully we see that for years to come," Black said. "That was a good one. It was a great bat toss from Parra, and Tony caught it. It was a 50-foot toss and a nice catch -- a great toss-and-catch."
HE SAID IT
"It's still baseball at the end of the day. It's a tight race in the NL West, everybody knows that, but the best way to be good at this game is to go out there and have a lot of fun and move on from the bad things that happen." -- McMahon, on Parra's big bat toss to Wolters
Antonio Senzatela climbs the hill for Wednesday's 6:40 p.m. MT series finale with the Giants. Senzatela held the Padres to one run and four hits in six innings in his last start, and found the missing feel for his fastball despite earning a hard-luck loss. It's his second time facing the Giants this season, having pitched seven shutout innings against them on July 3. With southpaw Andrew Suarez slated to start for the Giants, look for Matthew Holliday in the starting lineup.