DENVER -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn't sure Tim Lincecum would survive the first inning Sunday. As Lincecum tried to hold on and escape what became a 36-pitch ordeal, Bochy had Shane Loux up and throwing.
But Lincecum escaped that shaky first, regrouped and continued his second-half resurgence Sunday for the Giants, who beat the free-falling Rockies 8-3 to sweep their three-game series.
Lincecum tied his season high with five walks, including two in the first when the Rockies scored once but left the bases loaded, and he never retired the side in order. But he worked six innings, and the final five were scoreless.
"I didn't know how much we could get out of him," Bochy said. "So that was impressive what he did. Great effort there, going six innings. He started commanding the ball better. Got in a better rhythm. He saved us by regrouping and giving us six innings."
The Rockies finished a three-series homestand with a record of 1-8. It was Colorado's worst three-team homestand in franchise history and its second-worst overall; it went 0-7 in a two-team homestand last season. The Rockies have lost eight of their past nine games and are 5-16 since the All-Star break to drop to 38-68.
Tyler Chatwood, brought up from Double-A Tulsa, had command problems as he returned to the Rockies for his third tour and first start of the season after seven relief appearances.
He lasted 3 1/3 innings and allowed two hits and four walks, leaving after throwing 76 pitches, just 38 for strikes.
"Just didn't make pitches when I needed to," Chatwood said. "I fell behind."
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said of Chatwood, "His ball was live; he threw some good breaking balls. But he wasn't in there consistently enough. He had very sporadic command, and we used up a lot of pitches in a very short period of time. I took him out of the game after 3 1/3 innings, which put an onus on our bullpen. That's pretty much what it boiled down to."
The Giants outscored the Rockies 35-13 in the series. The Giants entered series having lost seven of their previous eight games, a stretch in which they scored 19 runs. This was the 13th time this season the Giants had the opportunity to sweep a series of three or more games. They completed their fourth sweep and first since July 13-15 against the Astros at AT&T Park.
"We've been in this situation a few times," Bochy said. "But it's great to come out and get the last game."
Bochy said Lincecum was "a couple batters away" from being taken out in the first when he ended up throwing 36 pitches, 20 strikes, after retiring the first two batters.
The third batter, Todd Helton, doubled, and Lincecum walked Carlos Gonzalez. Jordan Pacheco singled home a run, and Lincecum walked Tyler Colvin to load the bases. But he got Wilin Rosario to fly out.
The Rockies, who stranded 13 runners, had a man at second with one out in the second, but Lincecum retired Dexter Fowler and Josh Rutledge on fly balls to left fielder Melky Cabrera. Those were routine plays, unlike the fourth, when Cabrera caught a fly ball hit by Fowler and threw home to nail Rosario, who had tagged up from third.
"That first inning, first couple innings, I think my changeup was turning into like a slow cutter and it was staying up," Lincecum said. "So I just went back to throwing pretty much all sliders and fastballs for the rest of the game and a couple curveballs."
Although he was far from efficient and stranded eight runners, Lincecum, who is 6-11 overall with a 5.43 ERA, improved to 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA in five starts -- four of them won by the Giants -- after the All-Star break.
"I've just been trying to stay competitive," Lincecum said. "That's the biggest thing. When I go out there and I'm not throwing well, I know that extra is going to get me through -- my competitive side. So being able to lean on that helped me today when obviously I didn't have my best stuff.
"I don't think anything's different. I'm not throwing any harder, obviously, or different kind of pitches. I think it's just the conviction on pitches, regardless of them being balls. Every pitch -- before you throw it, it's with a purpose."
The Rockies haven't won a series at home since June 1-3 when they took two of three from the Dodgers. Since then, the Rockies are 0-8-1 in home series, splitting a four-game series with the Nationals and getting swept in four other series, leaving them with a home record record of 21-37.
"One of the things that we need to do is just play really good baseball at home," the Rockies' Gonzalez said. "It's been frustrating on the road and here. You want to play (well) at home and play your best and just put real good results there. We need to start playing better baseball. We're not going to make it to the playoffs. We need to create confidence for us and just finish strong."
Chatwood threw just 11 of 26 pitches in the first for strikes, didn't allow a hit and gave up two unearned runs. After Angel Pagan led off with a walk, third baseman Pacheco dropped Ryan Theriot's bouncer. The runners moved up on a ground out, and Chatwood walked Buster Posey to load the bases.
Pagan scored when catcher Rosario was charged with his 13th passed ball of the season that changed the flow of the inning, putting Theriot at third and enabling him to score on Hunter Pence's groundout.
"If I'm not mistaken," Tracy said, "a couple pitches later, there was a one-hop shot (Pence) hit right to (second baseman) Jon Herrera - (it would have been) a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play."
Chatwood walked Marco Scutaro to open the fourth and threw a wild pitch in the process of walking Hector Sanchez. After Brandon Crawford's fly to center moved Scutaro to third, Carlos Torres relieved Chatwood. Scutaro scored as Lincecum grounded out.
After Lincecum left, relievers George Kontos and Javier Lopez combined to give up a run and load the bases with one out in the seventh. But Sergio Romo struck out pinch hitter Matt McBride and Rosario to end the inning.
The Giants scored three in the seventh off Matt Belisle to make it 7-1 when Pence doubled home two runs, and Scutaro followed with a run-scoring double. The teams traded runs in the ninth, and the game ended when Loux, who had been warming up eight innings earlier during Lincecum's early struggles, came on to face Rosario with runners on first and second. He got Rosario to ground into a force out and send the Giants on their way to St. Louis for a four-game series with a half-game lead over the Dodgers.
"Important series coming off just an awful homestand," said Bochy referring to the team's 3-7 record against the Padres, Dodgers and Mets. "The guys were down a little bit and to come back and win three here, that's not easy."
Notes: Todd Helton's double in the first was his 963rd extra-base hit, tying him for 44th all-time with Hall of Famer Robin Young, and his 570th double, putting him two shy of tying Ivan Rodriguez for 21st...The sweep was the first on the road for the Giants since they won all four games at Coors Field on Sept. 15-18, 2011, and moved the Giants moved over .500 (27-26) on the road this season...The Rockies placed left-handed pitcher Jonathan Sanchez (left biceps tendinitis) on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Saturday, making room on the roster for Chatwood, who started Sunday. Sanchez is 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA in three starts for the Rockies since being acquired from the Royals on July 20 in a trade for pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Sanchez was on the disabled list for 35 days with the Rockies. Tracy said of Sanchez, who can be a free agent at the end of the season, "Hopefully between now and season's end, we'll get him back out there and get him pitching again." ...Rockies infielder Chris Nelson (irregular heartbeat) returned from a three -game rehab with Triple-A Colorado Springs, which was playing at Iowa. Nelson, who has been on the disabled list since July 17, will travel with the Rockies to Los Angeles and be activated Monday when a corresponding roster move will be made... Helton batted third for the first time this season. He typically doesn't play day games after night games, but Tracy didn't play Helton on Saturday night so he could take advantage of his history against Linceum, who started Sunday for the Giants. Helton entered the game 13-for-37 (.351) against Lincecum with three doubles, one homer and four RBI along with eight walks and six strikeouts... Bochy said third baseman Pablo Sandoval (left hamstring strain) is about a week away from returning. Sandoval, who is eligible to be activated Thursday, took ground balls again before Sunday's game and accompanied the team to St. Louis.... Posey made his 17th start of the season at first base. He homered in his third straight game Saturday, the first Giants catcher to do so since Brian Johnson from May 26-28, 1998. Tom Haller was the last Giants catcher to homer in four straight games from Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 1964.
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