Sports - Colorado Rockies

Apr 12, 2014 9:42 PM by Posted by Greg Smith

Rockies' bullpen steps up to deliver shutout

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tommy Kahnle believes no number of innings is too many for the Rockies' bullpen.

Starting pitcher Brett Anderson left the game after pitching three innings because of a bruised left index finger that he suffered batting in the top of the fourth. Kahnle was the first of five relievers to combine for six scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over the Giants on Saturday at AT&T Park in front of 41,917.

"With the bullpen we have, we can come in with any lead and hold the opponent," said Kahnle (2-0), who gave up a double and a walk, then retired the next five batters -- two with strikeouts -- after entering the game following Anderson's exit. "This is a pretty good team, a pretty good staff.

"Our starter gets taken out with a freak injury. It was just a big stop by us."

The victory was significant. Games at AT&T Park rarely fall into place for the Rockies. Saturday's was just their seventh victory in the last 32 games in San Francisco. To lose Anderson, who was pitching well before suffering the injury while batting in the top of the fourth, and still win gave the Rockies a shot of confidence against the National League West-rival Giants.

"Now we know that we can win against those guys, we can compete and we've got the ability to be very successful against them," said Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario.

To win close games requires good bullpen work. The Rockies have received that lately. In the last three games, Rockies relievers have gone 13 2/3 straight scoreless innings -- 9 2/3 scoreless the last two games against the Giants. Saturday was special, as the relievers made Troy Tulowitzki's third-inning sacrifice fly against Giants starter Matt Cain (0-2) stand.

"I don't know if I've ever seen it -- a starter come out after three and you win, 1-0," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It speaks volumes about our bullpen."

Cain struck out eight and held the Rockies to four hits over seven innings.

"We pitched good," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Cain gave us a good effort, bullpen did a great job. They just pitched a little better."

Cain was strong, but like almost everyone else so far this season, he couldn't solve Rockies leadoff man Charlie Blackmon, who had two hits to push his batting average to .500. It was Cain's leadoff walk to Blackmon in the third, however, that did the most damage.

Brandon Barnes singled after the walk, and both he and Blackmon advanced on a double steal. Cain fanned Carlos Gonzalez, who fell to 4-for-44 in his career against the right-hander. But Tulowitzki, returning to the starting lineup for the first time since Tuesday as he and the club navigated through his right quadriceps strain, drove in Blackmon with a sacrifice fly into short right field.

Anderson, who came to the Rockies in an offseason trade with the Athletics and had struggled with the action on his pitches in his two previous starts, was sailing before his finger injury. He struck out two and held the Giants to one hit and a walk. Anderson tried one warmup pitch before the bottom of the fourth before Kahnle was called upon to replace him.

"It felt like a firecracker went off in my glove," Anderson said. "I threw one warmup pitch and it felt like what I'd envision what throwing with a foam finger feels like."

Kahnle gave up a leadoff double to Pablo Sandoval and a walk to Buster Posey in the fourth, but that was it.

Kahnle was a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Yankees who made the team by curbing his tendency to overthrow and walk hitters. He hasn't conquered it totally, but he found his proper delivery in time to keep runs off the board Saturday.

"I refocused and just let my arm work, and everything worked out for the best," Kahnle said.

Matt Belisle and Adam Ottavino added clean, one-strikeout innings. Ottavino hasn't given up a run in six appearances covering 5 2/3 innings, and he has 11 strikeouts.

Brothers bailed out left fielder Gonzalez, who lost Brandon Crawford's one-out double in the eighth in the sun. Brothers was bailed out by Rosario's defense.

With an 0-2 count to Sandoval and Rosario set up on the inside corner, Brothers missed outside and in the dirt. But Rosario made an awkward but necessary backhand stop. On the next pitch, Brothers hit his spot in the dirt with a slider and Sandoval swung over it.

"That allows our pitchers to have confidence, guys like Rex, to be able to throw that slider below the zone," Weiss said.

LaTroy Hawkins earned his second save with a perfect ninth. In all, the relievers struck out six against two hits and three walks.

 

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