SAN FRANCISCO -- The standings offered the Rockies a clear assignment Tuesday night: Break their four-game losing streak, or else fall into last place in the National League West. But Michael Cuddyer doesn't observe such shallow goals.
Cuddyer's two home runs, including a leadoff shot in the ninth off Giants closer Sergio Romo to break a tie, lifted the Rockies to a 9-8 victory at AT&T Park.
The Rockies (67-79) finished last in the division last year. After a strong first month, some trying road trips and injuries to key players have pushed them near the cellar again. The Giants (65-80), who have gone from 2012 World Series champions to the West basement, built an early 6-0 lead and benefitted from Hunter Pence's six RBIs.
Cuddyer, whose 3-for-5, four-RBI night put him just 0.00006 behind the Braves' Chris Johnson for the NL batting lead (.33039 to .33033), said he was happy the Rockies didn't treat the game as meaningless as the standings said it was.
After Colorado was swept three games at San Diego and lost Monday's opener of three with the Giants, Cuddyer, who had a three-run shot off Ryan Vogelsong in the Rockies' five-run fifth and went deep on a full count against Romo (4-7), was watching to make sure the Rockies didn't fall into that trap. The comeback matched the largest of the season. The Rockies came from six down to beat the Mets, 9-8, in 10 innings at Coors Field in the second game of an April 12 doubleheader.
"It's a character-building win," Cuddyer said. "For a lot of these guys, to be able to experience a comeback in this stadium, against this team, down 6-0 where I've seen us fold and kind of go through the motions the rest of the game, we didn't do that. That takes a lot of courage and a lot of fight, not just tomorrow and the rest of the season but for the longer future.
"Unfortunately, we're not going to be in the playoffs. So that's what we want to see."
It was another high moment for Cuddyer, who represented the Rockies at the All-Star Game.
"He hits a home run off one of the toughest closers in the game, especially against right-handed hitters," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Cuddy keeps doing it."
Pence, who had a three-run homer in the first inning, had tied the game with a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth off Wilton Lopez (3-4). But after giving up three runs and losing the lead, Lopez forced Pablo Sandoval into an inning-ending double play. Also, Rex Brothers closed his 16th save by getting Marco Scutaro to ground out with two on in the bottom of the ninth.
It was a competitive, if spottily pitched, affair between one team trying to climb out of the NL West basement and the other trying not to be leapfrogged. Each team used seven pitchers, and each had 14 hits. The game lasted 4 hours, 2 minutes. It was long enough that Rockies lefty reliever Josh Outman, who had left the club to be with his wife, Ashley, because their second daughter, Bryar Grace, was born Sunday in St. Louis, was able to get back, get into uniform and be available to pitch.
"It was a great game, probably, to watch, and I love the way we competed," Weiss said.
Better pitching was anticipated. Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa had won his previous six starts and was hoping to keep pace with the Nationals' Jordan Zimmermann, who earned his NL-leading 17th win earlier Tuesday.
But De La Rosa lasted just two innings and gave up four runs, three on a first-inning Pence homer that skimmed off the outside of the left-field foul pole. De La Rosa left with a sore left thumb, which has bothered him since June, as well as soreness in his index and middle fingers. It was De La Rosa's shortest outing since July 31, 2008, when he went just 1 2/3 innings in a loss to the Marlins.
However, the Rockies at least saved De La Rosa from being pegged with a loss. They ignited for five runs and five hits in a fifth inning that included RBI singles from Corey Dickerson and DJ LeMahieu and Cuddyer's first homer of the game. LeMahieu's single extended his career-best hit streak to 12 games.
Charlie Blackmon's RBI double and Ryan Wheeler's pinch-hit RBI single, both off Jean Machi in the sixth, gave the Rockies a 7-6 lead. LeMahieu made it 8-6 with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. But Pence's two-run hit in the bottom of the eighth erased that lead.
"To be honest with you, I felt terrible before the game," Pence said. "It's funny. I kind of joked about it because the day before, last night, I felt awesome in BP, my body felt great, everything felt wonderful, and I didn't get any hits and had some pretty bad at-bats. We won the game, so it was a great game."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.