Giants stay hot with 8-3 win over Colorado Rockies

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Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto No.47 of the San Francisco Giants delivers the ball against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Tuesday in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO

Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto No.47 of the San Francisco Giants delivers the ball against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Tuesday in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO

DENVER: Buster Posey mostly leads by example. He’s content to sit back, listen and try not to laugh through his nose when Hunter Pence turns the clubhouse floor into a revival tent.

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But all this time, perhaps the Giants had another motivational speaker in their ranks. Posey called a hitters-only meeting prior to Saturday’s game, and a Giants offense that was quietly mediocre for weeks went on to score 18 runs in 18 innings.

They matched the San Francisco-era franchise record by hitting eight doubles in an 8-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, with Pence lashing three of them. And while the standard disclaimers apply at Coors Field, their hitters generated legitimate optimism after supporting an ailing Johnny Cueto while winning for the 15th time in 17 games.

What was Posey’s message?
“Just relax and have our swag on,” said Denard Span, perhaps paraphrasing a bit. “Just have some good at-bats. The pitchers have been picking us up. We just have to relax and do our part.”

Span appeared as pumped as anyone after missing Saturday’s game because of a bruised hip. He somehow morphed into Yoenis Cespedes, throwing out a runner at third base and hitting an upper-deck home run measured at 441 feet.

“Respect the power,” said Span with a smile, adding that the homer rivaled only an upper-deck shot he once hit in Philadelphia.

“He crushed that home run,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I think he surprised all of us that he had that in him.”

Of course, Posey does more than talk a good game. One day after hitting a pair of three-run home runs, he reached base four times while boosting his career average to .392 at Coors Field.

It was much more support than Cueto had become accustomed to receiving; he had pitched the Giants to 2-1 and 1-0 victories in his previous two starts. And he needed more help than usual this time.

“I had nothing on the ball,” said Cueto, who battled stiffness in his back and left side that cropped up in the first inning.

Cueto scrapped the occasional back turn and shoulder wiggle in his delivery. Yet he pitched out of two scary situations while holding the Rockies to two runs (one earned) in six innings.

Cueto said he expected to be fine to make his next start.

“It obviously affected his command, but he got through it,” Bochy said. “He had to calm down some stuff. He had to come up here (to the clubhouse) a few times and get his back stretched out.”

Cueto likes to work at a brisk pace, which his teammates appreciate — especially when another early start loomed Monday for the Giants two time zones east in Atlanta.

So when the Rockies’ Gerardo Parra stepped out to call for time in the third inning, and then stepped out again, Cueto didn’t appear to appreciate it.

Cueto raised his hands. Parra raised his, too. They exchanged a few more words after Parra lined into a double play with the bases loaded — perhaps the game’s pivotal moment.

“I just told him to stop asking for time out,” Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “But that’s the game, you know?

“That was the end of it. I told him not to ask for timeout. It was over with. There was no need to say anything else.”

No matter how much Cueto quick-pitches opposing hitters, he can only do so much to move along the pace of play.

But he minimized the Rockies’ chances against him over six innings to win for the eighth time in 11 starts — something no Giants pitcher has done to begin a season since Shawn Estes in 1997.

The Giants (32-20) are 10-1 in Cueto’s 11 assignments.

Cueto’s streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings against the Rockies ended when Trevor Story hit a solo home run in the second inning.

But it would have been a two-run shot if not for Span. The center fielder isn’t known for his arm, but he made an on-target throw to third base when Parra tried to advance on a fly out. Third baseman Matt Duffy clipped Parra’s ankle with his deft tag, and Giants won a replay review challenge to overturn the initial safe call.

Span joked with reporters who asked about his power. He did the same when asked about the throw.

“Once again, put some respect on my arm,” he said with a laugh. “It’s been chronicled, I know, that I started out late in the spring because of my shoulder. So it was nice to have a throw like that. … A couple years ago, he’d have been out by a mile.”

Pence doubled in the second, third and eighth innings, driving in a run each time, and said that “fancy stuff like that will happen” over a long season. He was most enthused because the strained hamstring that kept him out of the lineup for six days felt even better than it did in his return on Saturday.

Pence took encouragement from that, and inspiration from Posey.

“It was nice of Buster to bring us together and get us talking, and be the great leader that he is,” Pence said.

TNS

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