Short-handed Rockies lose 6-3 to first-place Giants

With the heart of Colorado's batting order out with injuries, Wilin Rosario has provided a lift during a lost season.

The dynamic rookie sure is making his mark in the Mile High City.

Rosario connected for his 25th home run, a two-run shot in a 6-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night, matching the Rockies' rookie record of 25 set by Todd Helton in 1998.

"It's pretty impressive. I'm pretty happy about it," he said. "It's tough being a catcher. This is my first year of playing a lot and the game is quicker up here."

Manager Jim Tracy and the front office feel so strongly about Rosario's future, they are already making plans about where to send him for the winter to ensure he is much-improved and ready come 2013.

Tim Lincecum shut down the Rockies for most of the game, pitching San Francisco one win closer to an NL West crown as the Giants lowered their magic number to clinch the division to seven.

Lincecum (10-14) struck out six and walked two in 6 1-3 scoreless innings on a day the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers were postponed by rain in Washington. He was fighting a constant cough that came on during the weekend in the dry desert air of Arizona.

"I know it's been a long year. You never stop working," Lincecum said. "I feel like I'm getting back to that point. I still feel like I'm grinding a little bit, but those harder situations are getting a little bit easier to get out of."

Marco Scutaro had three singles, drove in a run and scored twice against his former club and Xavier Nady had two RBI singles for the Giants (85-63), who moved a season-high 22 games over .500. Pablo Sandoval added two hits, including a double, and Hunter Pence added a sacrifice fly.

Angel Pagan extended his own San Francisco record with an RBI triple in the eighth, his major league-leading 14th. He tipped his batting helmet from third base to acknowledge the cheering crowd.

Following a walk to D.J. LeMahieu in the second inning, Lincecum retired the next 11 batters in order before Dexter Fowler's leadoff walk in the sixth. What happened next is rarely seen: Fowler was out at second on a fielder's choice as the ball bounced off his batting helmet on shortstop Brandon Crawford's throw to first attempting to get Charlie Blackmon for a double play. Blackmon was then caught stealing.

Lincecum improved to just 4-8 with a 3.67 ERA at home this season, but he sure looked like his old stellar self for a significant stretch on this cool September night — albeit with three of Colorado's best hitters out injured.

Carlos Gonzalez was a late scratch for the Rockies with tightness in his left hamstring. The left fielder tested his leg with some running before the game but didn't feel right. Manager Jim Tracy didn't want to risk further problems by playing the slugger, especially on a night when first-pitch temperature was 58 degrees.

"It didn't go very well," said Gonzalez, who is expected to play Wednesday night in the third game of the four-game series.

Jeff Francis (5-6) lost consecutive starts for just the second time all season and his winless stretch reached four outings since he beat the Dodgers on Aug. 27.

"It's not the results you want but I was more effective than the last time I faced them," he said. "I was ahead in the count quite a bit and that gave me a chance to work the corners, be a little finer with my pitches."

The lefty matched up against Lincecum for the second time in as many starts. He allowed two runs and six hits in five innings, struck out three and walked one.

Colorado lost for the 12th time in its last 16 games at San Francisco.

"They just beat us tonight," Tracy said. "We battled them. We had a great opportunity, as good as you can have, bases loaded, one out in the seventh, and a good matchup for us. We just hit into a double play."

After winning last Wednesday at Coors Field, Lincecum posted consecutive victories for the first time since April 23 and 28. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner also won his third straight decision.

"That's the Timmy that we know, and we're going to need him down the stretch," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Timmy's tough when he's on his game, and he's on it right now."

Rookie Hector Sanchez, who has caught Lincecum most of the season, doubled, singled and scored a run. With him behind the plate, Buster Posey started at first base.

When Posey drew an intentional walk in the third, many in the sellout crowd of 41,718 chanted "M-V-P! M-V-P!" He drew another one in the seventh, drawing boos.

Fans jumped to their feet to give Lincecum a standing ovation when he gave way to Jeremy Affeldt in the seventh. Lincecum allowed an infield single to pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge that loaded the bases, then Affeldt got pinch-hitter Jason Giambi to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Sergio Romo allowed pinch-hitter Matt McBride's two-out RBI single in the ninth for Colorado's last run.

Pagan appeared to be ejected by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez when he flipped his bat after a called third strike to end the sixth. Hernandez signaled and an arguing Pagan had to be escorted off the field by Bochy. But he took his position in center field moments later. The hand signal was actually a fine for an equipment violation.

"I thought I got tossed, and I was asking 'Why did you toss me?'" Pagan said. "I didn't think I did anything wrong. Just three outs, I flipped my bat and was going to flip my helmet and get my stuff to go to center field. It was as simple as that. I wasn't showing anybody up."

Notes: Scutaro — who began the season with the Rockies — has 52 multihit games, tying him with suspended teammate Melky Cabrera for second-most in the NL. Scutaro has 20 in his last 32. ... Colorado fell to 2-5 at the Giants' waterfront ballpark in 2012. ... Giambi hopes to play in 2013. "If I get a job next year, I'll play," he said. "I hope so."