SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Johnny Cueto pitched seven uneven innings for his 18th win and the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 7-2 on Thursday night, setting up a wild race to the finish for the NL wild card.
With three games left the Giants are one game behind the idle New York Mets and one game ahead of St. Louis. The Cardinals beat Cincinnati on Thursday.
San Francisco hosts the Los Angeles Dodgers beginning Friday, the Cardinals play Pittsburgh at home and the Mets close out the regular season in Philadelphia.
Cueto (18-5) overcame a shaky start in his first appearance since being sidelined more than a week with a groin strain. The All-Star right-hander matched his season high of 11 strikeouts, allowed two runs, nine hits and walked one to beat the Colorado for the third time this season.
Conor Gillaspie, Angel Pagan and Brandon Crawford had two hits apiece to help the Giants bounce back after getting shut out a night earlier.
Nolan Arenado had two hits and an RBI for Colorado, which was eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend and has dropped eight of 10.
On a night when St. Louis rallied to win on a walkoff hit in the ninth, San Francisco staged its own comeback.
Arenado hit an RBI double in the first and scored on David Dahl’s triple to put the Rockies up 2-0.
The Giants tied it with two runs in the fourth then went ahead in the sixth with help from Colorado’s defense. The Rockies committed two errors, including a wild throw by third baseman Arenado on Cueto’s one-out bunt single that allowed two runs to score.
Colorado starter Jon Gray (10-10) allowed five runs over 5 1-3 innings and left shortly after he appeared to get hit in the right ankle by Crawford’s line drive in the sixth.
TAKING NO CHANCES
Giants manager Bruce Bochy used four relievers to record the final six outs. One-time closer Santiago Casilla was not among them. Instead, Sergio Romo pitched the ninth and retired Charles Blackmon on a fly ball to end it.
Giants: INF Eduardo Nunez is making slight progress from a mild hamstring strain but could still miss the wild card round of the playoffs if San Francisco makes it that far. Nunez has not played since Sept. 25.
Rockies: RHP Chad Bettis (13-8) makes his final start of the season against Milwaukee on Friday. Seven of Bettis’ wins this season have come at Coors Field.
Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (14-9) pitches the series opener against the Dodgers on Friday night. Bumgarner is winless over his previous four starts and has a 4.21 ERA during that span.
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