The Giants have found every which way to lose to the Colorado Rockies this season.
They needed anesthetic for the latest one Sunday afternoon.
The Giants took the lead on Hunter Pence’s first career pinch home run in the ninth inning, but sore-armed closer Mark Melancon blew it in the bottom of the inning. Nolan Arenado hit a stunning, three-run homer as the Rockies won 7-5 in front of a delirious crowd at Coors Field.
It had to be the most dramatic way a major league player hit for the cycle in history. Arenado already had the triple, the double and the single. His home run was like popping a wheelie.
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“It’s probably one of the best moments in my career,” Arenado told The Associated Press. “I’ve hit some big homers but by far the best, obviously, for the cycle. I’ve never done it. I feel like I’ve been kind of close but I’ve always needed a triple and I ain’t getting that. Today is a great day.”
The Rockies had never swept a four-game series from the Giants, home or road, in their franchise history. They have never won an National League West title, either. One down, then. Another to go.
The Rockies continued to press down their thumbs on the Giants, beating them for the 10th time in 11 games while knocking the contenders turned pretenders 19 1/2 games behind them in the N.L. West. The Giants have lost six in a row overall.
Pence had tried to talk his way into Sunday’s lineup, and why not? He is more persuasive than a timeshare salesman. He has made a career of playing every inning of every game. He can talk his way past any velvet barricade.
It should not come as a surprise, then, that Pence had played in 1,426 games over 11 major league seasons and had just 20 appearances as a pinch hitter. It is not in his nature to stay warm or loose in cramped cages.
But Pence had an awful time in right field over three games here. He was fouling so many pitches down the middle of the plate. He could not talk his way into Sunday’s lineup at Coors Field, and it was beginning to become fair game to wonder if the Giants’ 35-year-old amateur philosopher was reaching the end as an everyday player.
Then came one startling swing in the ninth inning. Pence came off the bench and slugged the first pinch home run of his career, a two-run shot against left-hander Jake McGee that turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead.
Gorkys Hernandez drew a one-out walk and Pence fouled off the first pitch before ripping his game-changing shot. The Giants added a run when Joe Panik singled, took second base on a botched pickoff play and scored on Brandon Crawford’s double.
Melancon needed the extra run, and more. He was pitching for just the third time in June, his absence due to a paucity of save chances along with a sore elbow that he has attempted to tread around with mixed success.
The Rockies strung together three consecutive one-out singles to get within a run. They had runners at the corners and Melancon was a pitch away from escaping. But Arenado did not oblige with a double-play grounder.
It was Melancon’s fourth home run allowed this season, matching his total from last year. Melancon’s fourth blown save (in 14 chances) also matched his total from last year (in 51 chances).
“This was as tough a one as we’ve had,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I mean, look at those hits (in the ninth). A blooper into center field, another one that we couldn’t quite get to and an eight-hopper to center. The other guy came through, but (Melancon) should have fared a lot better.”
The Giants’ only runs before the ninth came in the fifth, when Crawford hit his second opposite-field home run of the series to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.