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COL@SD: Morales allows one run on four hits over six

DENVER -- The early weeks of the season are testing the depth the Rockies spent the winter building.

Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin is close but has yet to make a start because of a right shoulder strain, and lefty Brett Anderson suffered a broken left index finger in his third start. They're working through their first injury to a key player, having placed outfielder Michael Cuddyer on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a left hamstring strain.

That's not all. Through judicious rest, the Rockies avoided a major issue when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki battled right quadriceps tightness and now are working through Carlos Gonzalez's left knee tendinitis.

The Rockies also have struggled at times with hitting on the road yet have hung around the middle of the pack in the National League West. They hope to gain ground Tuesday night, when they send left-hander Franklin Morales (1-1, 4.82 ERA) to the mound against the Giants and lefty Madison Bumgarner (2-1, 3.48).

An injury to someone like Cuddyer, the defending National League batting champ, could have created big problems for previous Rockies teams. But players such as leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon and third baseman Nolan Arenado, who shifted into Cuddyer's No. 2 spot Monday, plus the added depth in outfielders Corey Dickerson, Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes give the Rockies more experience than they've had in recent years.

"It's part of the game, every team's going to deal with injuries," Tulowitzki said. "We have some depth. Hopefully, you're going to see that play out and these guys will step up and do a good job. But it's never easy to lose one of your better players on your team.

"You've got to hold your ground. It gives some young guys a chance to step up. When [Cuddyer] comes back, it's going to be a little shot in the arm. There comes a time you're going to need everybody on your roster, and we're proving that early. If we can play good baseball then get healthy, it helps your team that much more."

The Giants also have been relying on their depth.

San Francisco has been carrying an extra pitcher since last Wednesday, when Jeremy Affeldt returned from the disabled list after recovering from a right knee sprain and outfielder Juan Perez was optioned to Triple-A.

Manager Bruce Bochy was in no hurry to go back to 12 pitchers and five bench players with a six-game road trip to San Diego and Colorado, where starter Ryan Vogelsong didn't make it through the second inning in the series opener Monday.

"Here is where you want an extra pitcher," Bochy said of Coors Field. "We'll see how we get through this series. It's something we'll discuss once we get home, see where we're at with this pitching and if we think we're going to need an extra bench player. Right now, no, we're not talking about it."

Coors Field also provides a question regarding Michael Morse, a big bat in the middle of the Giants lineup but a player Bochy often pulls defensively for Gregor Blanco. Colorado's outfield is one of the more expansive in baseball, but it's also a park that thrives on a lumber-heavy lineup.

"Sometimes you get in a slugfest and you want to keep your bats out there," Bochy said of the challenge the park presents. "You get kind of caught there. But we'll run it like we've been running it. [Morse] will be out there five or six innings if it's going out way. If not, he'll stay out there."

Giants: Needing to ignite

The Giants have averaged two runs a game over their last seven, and nothing has helped them find their rhythm -- not even the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field.

"We haven't really been swinging the bat real well lately," Brandon Crawford said after losing the first game of the series to the Rockies. "It doesn't really matter what's been thrown at us lately, we're just not hitting them."

When the Giants could create opportunities Monday, they couldn't bring them home. They scored one run on a double-play grounder and a second run on a two-out error in the ninth, leaving eight on base and going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

"As bad as it went there in the early going, we had our chances to get back in the game," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We just couldn't get a hit to get it going. A couple double-play balls kind of stopped our rallies there. In this ballpark, anything can happen. We just couldn't get the hit line moving."

Rockies: Morneau no longer left behind

In recent injury-affected seasons, first baseman Justin Morneau lost his touch against left-handed pitching. After hitting .325 against them before suffering a severe concussion in 2010, Morneau hit .144 in 2011, .237 in 2012 and .207 last year -- when at least he was able to play 152 regular-season games for the Twins and Pirates and was able to re-establish himself as a full-time player.

This year, Morneau has been far better against lefties -- .333 (5-for-15) with a home run (a blast Sunday off Phillies lefty specialist Jake Diekman) -- and three RBIs.

Morneau said he is returning to the days when he didn't care.

"Coming up through the Minor Leagues, you never even pay attention to it," said Morneau, who on Monday was named National League Player of the Week. "You just play. In the big leagues, you come up and don't really think about it. But when the numbers start to go the other way, you start to pay attention more.

"Now I'm feeding off the confidence of Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez. They don't care if the guy is right-handed or left-handed or throws 90 or 100. They think they should get a hit. That's the mentality I've tried to get myself back to, not concerning myself with anything but having a good approach. That's the way it's supposed to be."

Worth noting

• Lefty reliever David Huff knocked his first career Major league hit with a single in the second inning and scored his first run. However, he left the game with a left quadriceps strain.

• Tulowitzki walked in his first two times up Monday night to extend his run of reaching base to eight plate appearances.

• Arenado's first-inning home run extended his hit streak to 12 games, during which he has hit .375 (18-for-48) with four doubles, a home run, five RBIs and four runs.

• The Giants have dropped seven of their last 12 and three of the first four games of a six-game road trip.

• Outfielder Charlie Blackmon's four homers from the leadoff spot are second-most in the Majors from that position to the five by the Brewers' Carlos Gonzalez.

• The Rockies' five homers Monday night were their most in any game against the Giants at Coors. Comments