Rockies shut out by Giants’ Chris Stratton in series opener at AT&T Park – The Denver Post


SAN FRANCISCO — Bud Black has repeatedly said that the race for the National League West is likely to come down to the final few games of the season.

No, the Rockies manager doesn’t have a crystal ball, he just knows the reality of September baseball. He knows that even a foundering team like San Francisco is quite capable of beating a front-runner, especially when a pitcher gets hot.

Such was the case Friday night at AT&T Park when the first-place Rockies (81-66) lost 2-0 to the Giants and right-hander Chris Stratton, who twirled a two-hit gem for the first shutout of his career. Colorado’s only hits were Ian Desmond’s lonely single in the second inning and an infield squibber by Charlie Blackmon in the sixth.

The one sliver of good news for Colorado was a relatively solid start by left-hander Tyler Anderson, who heretofore and been struggling with his pitch command.

Stratton struck out seven and walked two, throwing 114 pitches to breeze through the 2-hour, 20-minute game. He allowed only one baserunner to reach second base — Trevor Story, who walked in the second inning and advanced on Desmond’s hit.

“He attacked us,” Colorado catcher Drew Butera said. “He threw all his pitches for strikes. He didn’t miss many spots. He kind of had a sneaky fastball tonight. When you’re throwing everything for strikes, it keeps us in swing mode.”

Stratton was 1-1 with a 9.82 ERA in three previous starts vs. the Rockies this season, but they barely laid a bat on him Friday night.

Said Black: “The guys coming in (to the dugout) said his fastball had some life to it. It was cutting, it was darting. We just couldn’t seem to square it up consistently. We hit some balls on the nose — maybe six or seven balls — but right at them.”

Meanwhile, the second-place Dodgers (81-67) certainly aren’t backing down in their fight for a sixth consecutive NL West title. They won at St. Louis for the second consecutive game, blanking the Cardinals 3-0 to creep within a half-game of the Rockies. The two teams begin a crucial three-game series at Los Angeles on Monday.

Third-place Arizona (78-70) also won Friday night, beating the Astros at Houston to move within 3 ½ games of Colorado.

The Giants entered the game with an 11-game losing streak, their worst stretch of baseball since they were the New York Giants playing in the Polo Grounds in 1951. But Stratton simply dominated the Rockies.

Asked if he considered the Giants a “dangerous” team because they were bound to break out of their skid, Black answered: “Every team is dangerous, it doesn’t matter who you are playing. They are a big-league team. On any given night, anything can happen.”

The closest the Rockies came to putting a run on the board was in the sixth when Blackmon reached on his infield hit and Nolan Arenado scorched a line drive toward the left-field wall. But Gregor Blanco made a leaping catch as Arenado put his hands to his batting helmet in frustration.

Remember, this was the same Rockies offense that beat Arizona 10-3 Thursday afternoon in Colorado while pounding out 16 hits. Wednesday night, the Rockies had 13 hits in a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks, courtesy of DJ LeMahieu’s two-run walk-off home run.

But chilly AT&T Park is not hot-and-dry Coors Field, and there were no late-night miracles here. Plus, the Rockies historically struggle in their first game on road after a long homestand.

Anderson, the weak cog in the starting rotation since the end of July, rebounded with a solid performance, and certainly pitched well enough for Colorado to win.

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