After leaving the bases loaded twice and dropping out of first place, the Giants left San Francisco not knowing whether they will return to Candlestick Park this season.
“It’s not how you want to end your season at home,” San Francisco Manager Dusty Baker said after Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies. “We plan on coming back here to play again, one way or another. The race is alive and well.”
But time was running out as the Giants departed for a four-game series against the Dodgers, who have beaten them in six of nine games this season.
The Braves, who were tied with San Francisco at the start of the day, played the Houston Astros on Wednesday night with the chance of retaking sole possession of first place in the NL West with four games left.
Colorado, which stopped the Giants’ seven-game winning streak, took a 5-1 lead in the sixth against Jeff Brantley on Daryl Boston’s second homer of the game and 14th of the season.
The Giants closed to 5-3 in the bottom of the inning when Barry Bonds walked and pinch-hitter Mark Carreon hit his seventh home run this year, but San Francisco had only one runner after that. Darren Lewis singled leading off the seventh and stole second and third, but was stranded when Matt Williams grounded out.
Williams, who also hit into a bases-loaded double play in the fifth, shouldered the blame for the Giants’ missed opportunities.
“There definitely were a lot of chances,” he said. “I’m probably most at fault for not driving those runs in. I was in those situations. I’ll take the heat for it. . . . Hopefully, in the next four days I’ll come through in those situations when we need it.”
Bonds, who carried the Giants during the streak, went 0-for-3 for the second game in a row.
San Francisco, which got seven hits, stranded seven runners and lost to Colorado for the third time in 13 games. The Rockies, who travel to Atlanta for a three-game series with a chance to shape the pennant race again, are winless against the Braves but think that’s about to change.
“I’ve thought maybe the law of averages is about to be on our side,” Colorado Manager Don Baylor said. “It’s time for us to win a couple of those close games.”
Said Steve Reed (9-5), who got two outs and the victory: “Our confidence level, especially after winning this game, I think is going to carry over into that series. We’re a very different team from the last time they saw us.”
Reed and starter Kent Bottenfield showed how better they have become, pitching out of two perilous situations.
San Francisco loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth against Bottenfield, but Kirt Manwaring grounded out to first. Bottenfield loaded the bases again in the fifth, and this time Williams bounced into a double play off Reed after home-plate umpire Bruce Froemming called a strike on a 3-0 pitch that appeared high and outside.
“That 3-0 pitch on Matty turned the game around,” Baker said. “I asked Bruce about it and he said he thought it was a strike, so what the hell are you going to do about it?”
Giants rookie Salomon Torres (3-4) wasn’t sharp and lasted only 2 2/3 innings in his seventh big league start. He gave up homers leading off the first and second innings, and issued a leadoff walk in the third to Nelson Liriano. Liriano was sacrificed to second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Andres Galarraga’s RBI groundout, giving the Rockies a 3-1 lead.
Colorado got another run in the third when Jerald Clark drove in Charlies Hayes with a single off Scott Sanderson.
Torres was tagged for four runs and three hits, walked four and struck out one. The right-hander said he thought he could have gotten into a groove eventually but understood how high the stakes were.
“I didn’t give myself a chance to recover,” he said. “It was as big game but the last couple of starts, I’ve been all over the place.”
Liriano hit his second homer of the season leading off the game, and Boston homered in the second.