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Posey homers, collects a three hits in loss

DENVER -- The Giants and Rockies came out swinging at Coors Field on Monday night, combining for 23 hits and putting both bullpens to the test as they opened a three-game set. But despite putting Colorado on the ropes in the late innings, San Francisco's punches lacked the oomph it needed to land a knockout, losing for the fourth time in six games, 6-5.

San Francisco starter Ryan Vogelsong (12-8) was off his A game, allowing four runs in five innings on six hits and no walks.

"I'm just not making pitches, missing locations," Vogelsong said. "I'm costing us games right now, and I'm not real happy about it."

Vogelsong sports a 3.40 ERA, but over the course of his last six games, he's allowed 28 runs in 26 1/3 innings, going 3-2.

"I'm fine -- I'm a battler," Vogelsong said. "Look what I've been through. A couple bad starts in the span of six isn't going to get me down. I've been through way too much in this game to let six not good starts keep me from getting where I want to be with this team."

Vogelsong's rough stretch is emblematic of the Giants' last six games, but they have built enough padding over the course of the season to endure the inevitable bumps in the road. The Giants have lost four of their last six, but have gained a half-game over the Dodgers during that span, sitting in the catbird seat with a five-game cushion while the Dodgers were idle on Monday.

"You like having a five-game lead. It does give you a margin of error, but that doesn't mean you slide in the back door," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We need to win ballgames. That's the way we got to look at it. Come out here and try to win every night. This one could have gone either way. We get one more hit, and it's a different ballgame. Sure, it's a tough game to lose, especially how we battled back and got guys on base, but we'll put this behind us."

The Rockies, meanwhile, had lost five in a row, but played like a contender -- or perhaps a spoiler.

"This time of the year, I don't care where you are in the race," Rockies reliever Matt Belisle said. "I look at it as an opportunity to train for next year's playoff run."

The Rockies opened the first inning with back-to-back doubles, Josh Rutledge knocking in Tyler Colvin before scoring on a Jordan Pacheco single. Colorado added on in the second, when rookie starting pitcher Alex White launched a towering shot to left for his first career home run.

"There's a few times tonight when some two-seamers either stayed true or had a little cut back over the plate," catcher Buster Posey said. "I think [White's homer] was one of them. The ball Rutledge hit in the first inning came back a little bit. That's sometimes par for the course in this [high altitude] air."

It was the wake-up call Vogelsong needed. Following the homer from White, he allowed a single to the next batter, Colvin, then retired eight of the next 10 batters, yielding a ground-rule double to Ramon Hernandez and watching Chris Nelson reach on a Belt error, but offering something to build on in his final innings.

"I felt like I actually got a little bit better as the game went on, so that's a good sign," Vogelsong said. "I felt pretty good about the way I threw the ball the last couple innings, so I just have to try and go off of those."

The Giants got on the board in the second when Hunter Pence knocked a no-doubter deep into the left-field seats for his 20th round-tripper of the season.

It was the only run allowed by White, who pitched four innings and allowed six hits and no walks while striking out two.

Vogelsong was removed for a pinch-hitter during a sixth-inning rally that produced one run. Posey opened the inning with a single to left, then advanced to second on a wild pitch, to third on a grounder to second, and came home on a grounder to first. With two outs, Gregor Blanco singled to center and Brandon Crawford drew a walk before pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez struck out to end the rally.

"I really wanted to leave [Vogelsong] out there, but once we got a couple guys on , I had to hit for him," Bochy said. "He was starting to hit his spots a little bit better. His stuff is good. I know he's frustrated. But he was competing out there and the game didn't get out of hand.

"We had our chances. We didn't take advantage of the opportunities enough. We got our hits and got guys out there, we just couldn't get one more big hit to get it going."

Posey made it a two-run game with a two-run shot in the seventh, his 21st of the season, and the Giants climbed within one run with an eighth-inning rally highlighted by Angel Pagan's run-scoring double to left. The Giants then stranded runners on second and third with one out as Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval grounded to first and flew to left to end the threat.

"We had the right guys up there a few times, including Pablo," Bochy said of his third baseman and three-hole hitter who was 0-for-5 with an error that led to a run. "He had an off night. That's the way you have to look at it. It's an off night, you put it behind you, and come back tomorrow for a little vengeance."

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