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Mortensen saves Rockies' bullpen in loss to Giants

Tim Lincecum took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of San Francisco's 8-1 rout of Colorado, yet what really impressed the Rockies was Clay Mortensen's six stellar innings of relief Monday night.

After the Rockies spotted San Francisco's ace an eight-run cushion after three innings, all they wanted was to break up his no-hit bid, which Carlos Gonzalez finally did in the seventh, and not burn the bullpen.

Enter Clayton Mortensen, who was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs before the game.

He relieved Esmil Rogers (2-1) to start the fourth and did his best impression of Lincecum, retiring the first 11 batters he faced and giving up just two hits, both singles, over six scoreless innings while walking one and striking out two.

"I can't say enough about the job that Clayton Mortensen did," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "And even in getting beat tonight, with the effort that he gave us tonight to preserve our bullpen, will pay huge dividends.

"He was terrific," the manager added. "To have him come up here and do what he did tonight obviously was phenomenal and is the bright spot of the night."

Mortensen said his mindset was to throw the bullpen a life raft.

"I knew if we got in trouble, they needed me to soak up some innings today," Mortensen said. "So, if I get in there, I know I've got to give these guys a break so they can come back out the rest of the series and be fresh."

Over the last two games, the Rockies have gotten just seven innings out of their starters but their bullpen has thrown 11 scoreless innings.

Rogers was roughed up for home runs by Pat Burrell, Nate Schierholtz and Freddy Sanchez and gave up five runs in the first, another in the second and two in the third.

"The guy that we were facing tonight, you certainly can't spot him any runs and put him in a rocking chair that quickly and make his evening that much easier on him," Tracy said.

Spotted that eight-run cushion, Lincecum (2-1) cruised through Colorado's lineup, dominating baseball's best team over the season's first 2½ weeks until Gonzalez broke up his no-hit bid with a clean single in the seventh.

"I wasn't really thinking about it," Lincecum said. "I was just trying to throw strikes."

Lincecum didn't allow a ball to the outfield until Jonathan Herrera led off the seventh with a fly to deep right. By then, the ball wasn't carrying and it settled into Schierholtz's glove.

Gonzalez followed with the first hit of the night off Lincecum, and he scored on Todd Helton's two-out double.

Lincecum was shooting for the 14th no-hitter in franchise history and the first since Jonathan Sanchez handcuffed the San Diego Padres on July 10, 2009, which snapped a 32-year Giants drought.

The only no-hitter at Coors Field was thrown by Hideo Nomo of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 17, 1996.

Lincecum benefited from some nice defensive plays by second baseman Freddy Sanchez, including a diving stop of Gonzalez's hard grounder in the first on a 2-0 changeup — the exact pitch Gonzalez would be sitting on six innings later.

Lincecum said he had no regrets about the 3-1 changeup that Gonzalez raked to right.

"No, that's what I wanted to throw right there," Lincecum said. "I felt like I threw the pitch that I wanted and you tip your cap to him. He hit it well."

Gonzalez was the one complimenting his opponent.

"Well, the guy was dealing today," Gonzalez said. "That's why the guy has two Cy Young Awards. Whenever you have to face a guy like that you want to count on your starting pitcher" because runs are going to be hard to come by.

The Rockies entered the night with a 12-3 mark and a four-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West, but Rogers gave up eight runs and six hits over three innings.

Lincecum allowed one run and three hits over 7 2-3 spectacular innings. He walked three, struck out 10 and allowed just four balls out of the infield, none in the first six innings.

"He's always good, but tonight was some of his best stuff that I've seen," Troy Tulowitzki said.

NOTES: Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez (cut thumb cuticle) comes off the 15-day disabled list to start the second game of the series Tuesday night. ... Helton's two doubles gave him 531 for his career, 31st all-time in MLB, one more than Al Oliver.