DENVER (AP) – Joe Panik saw everything in virtual slow motion. That’s how locked in he was at the plate.
The San Francisco second baseman completed a torrid series with five more hits and Johnny Cueto threw five effective innings, helping the Giants beat Colorado 11-3 on Wednesday night to snap a 10-game skid against the Rockies at Coors Field.
Panik wore out Rockies pitching by going 12 of 15 – setting a Giants record for most hits in a three-game series.
“I feel like I’m in control of the at-bat right now,” Panik said. “It’s a good feeling to be in.”
That sort of zone conjured up images of another hitter for manager Bruce Bochy – the late Tony Gwynn, who had one of the purest swings in baseball.
“It did remind me of Tony,” Bochy said. “Everything (Panik) hit he hit on the barrel and found holes. It was quite a display of hitting.”
Panik became the first major leaguer with 12 or more hits in a three-game series since Boston’s Jerry Remy was 12 of 19 against Seattle in 1981, according to the Giants. So torrid was Panik that Rockies manager Bud Black said before the game he was asking one of his coaches, “Can we get this guy out one time?”
No one really could.
Panik raised his average 18 points over the series to .285. That’s not an easy task this late in the season.
“I can’t remember a three-game stretch like this, where I was able to go line-to-line hitting line drives and ground balls up the middle,” said Panik, who returned from a concussion on Aug. 25.
Austin Slater and Gorkys Hernandez each added two-run singles as the Giants won in Denver for the first time in a year to the day.
“Guess if you’re going to win one, the last one is the way to go and make for a nice trip and memory,” Bochy said.
Cueto (7-7) looked like his vintage self, allowing one run and striking out seven. It was his second start since coming back from blister issues and a strained flexor tendon that sidelined him for 45 games.
The Rockies finished their nine-game homestand at a lackluster 3-6. They’re trying to hang on to the second NL wild-card spot, with St. Louis just two games behind.
Kyle Freeland (11-10) never found his groove in giving up five runs, three earned, over 3 1/3 innings.
Nolan Arenado made a rare fielding error to load the bases in the first. Slater capitalized with a two-out, two-run single up the middle. The Rockies are 17-31 this season when making one or more errors. They’re 57-34 when they play clean defense.
What’s more, Colorado couldn’t come up with the timely hit over the homestand. The team was 13 of 73 with runners in scoring position, including 1 of 7 on Wednesday.
“We know we have an opportunity in front of us. It’s important for us to play the way we have the whole year – not go out and be a hero,” Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said. “Go out and play like a team.”
Giants: C Buster Posey wasn’t in the lineup after leaving in the eighth Tuesday when he took a foul ball off his throwing hand. “The swelling went down, but he still has some in there and it’s still pretty sore,” Bochy said.
Gonzalez hit in the No. 3 spot as he shows signs of emerging from his season-long slump. Gonzalez raised his average to .247 by going 2 for 2.
Switch anything up?
“It’s the same me, man,” Gonzalez said.
Pablo Sandoval entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out to remain hitless in his last 38 at-bats. That surpasses Johnnie LeMaster (1984) for the longest hitless streak by a Giants position player in the San Francisco era (since 1958).
THIS & THAT
Giants pinch-hitter Mac Williamson homered in the seventh and C Nick Hundley added a two-run homer in the eighth. … Rockies OF Charlie Blackmon had a double and a solo homer. … Rockies 2B DJ LeMahieu extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
Giants: After a day off, Giants open a three-game series Friday in Chicago against the White Sox. LHP Matt Moore (4-13, 5.49 ERA).
Rockies: RHP Jon Gray (6-4, 4.26) and the Rockies open a four-game series at the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.
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