Veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto came within one strike of his first complete game in almost five years Friday afternoon as he and the San Francisco Giants rewarded the return of their fans with a 3-1 victory in their home opener over the visiting Colorado Rockies.
Brandon Crawford launched a bases-loaded, two-run double with one out in the seventh inning to end a scoreless deadlock and give Cueto (1-0) all the run support he and closer Jake McGee would need.
Cueto, who led the National League with five complete games in 2016, took a 3-0 lead into the ninth in search of his first complete game since September of that season.
The Rockies ended his shutout bid when Chris Owings led off the inning with a triple and scored on Garrett Hampson’s sacrifice fly to close the gap to 3-1, but Cueto was allowed to stay in the game.
He got Ryan McMahon on a liner to right field for the second out, then had Trevor Story down in the count before a groundball snuck through the right side of the infield, bringing the potential tying run to the plate and ending Cueto’s day.
McGee needed just three pitches to strike out Sam Hilliard and preserve the lead. The lefty picked up his third save of the season.
Cueto retired the first 13 Rockies he faced before walking C.J. Cron with one out in the fifth.
He experienced his first trouble of the day when Raimel Tapia followed with a single to left field, the Rockies’ first hit, but got out of it by inducing a double-play grounder from Josh Fuentes.
Cueto allowed a leadoff single to Dom Nunez in the sixth but then retired the next nine batters he faced before Owings’ triple in the ninth.
The 35-year-old, who had pitched a solid 5 2/3 innings in a 6-3 win over Seattle on April 2, threw 118 pitches on Friday, allowing one run on four hits and one walk. He struck out seven.
Cueto outdueled Rockies left-hander Austin Gomber (0-2), who left a scoreless game with two on and one out in the seventh, having allowed only one hit.
Tyler Kinley walked pinch hitter Alex Dickerson before Crawford sent his shot to right-center field, scoring Darin Ruf and Buster Posey, both of whom had walked.
Gomber was charged with two runs in 6 1/3 innings. He issued four walks while striking out five.
The Giants added an insurance run in the eighth on a RBI single by Dickerson, scoring Brandon Belt, who had singled.
Posey went 2-for-3 for the Giants, who out-hit the Rockies 5-4. He was the only player in the game with multiple hits.
–Field Level Media