SAN FRANCISCO — The way Tyler Chatwood has shined in his remarkable return from two Tommy John surgeries that sidelined him for most of the past two years has meant so much to the Colorado Rockies.
They never could have envisioned his comeback going this well. Same goes for the right-hander himself.
Chatwood struck out nine in eight innings and outdueled Jeff Samardzija as Colorado beat the San Francisco Giants 2-0 on Wednesday night, a day after surrendering 19 hits in a 12-3 defeat.
“I’m very happy and proud of myself for what I was able to overcome,” Chatwood said. “Just to be able to finish on that note is awesome.”
Chatwood dazzled — and that has been the norm for him away from Coors Field. A 12-game winner, he allowed three hits and walked two as the Rockies snapped an eight-game road losing streak.
He is 8-1 with a majors-best 1.69 ERA in 13 road starts, and he is 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA in six career outings at AT&T Park. Chatwood’s road ERA is the lowest in franchise history for pitchers with at least 80 innings.
After allowing Conor Gillaspie’s leadoff single in the third, Chatwood (12-9) retired the next 11 batters in order before Brandon Belt drew a leadoff walk in the seventh.
“We couldn’t imagine it going this well. This is obviously a best-case scenario and then some,” manager Walt Weiss said. “The time that he missed, you’re hoping he just gets through the season healthy, and the fact of the matter is he’s been very durable, very reliable and very good, so I think best-case scenario for Chatty. It’s quite a comeback.”
In a game that began with a hovering mist above the field on a cool Bay Area night — with first-pitch temperature 55 degrees — Samardzija (12-11) struck out a season-high 11 in six-plus innings of his final regular season start. He allowed seven hits and two runs, walking one.
San Francisco dropped to 1 1/2 games behind the Mets for the top wild card and remained a game up on St. Louis for the second spot after the Cardinals lost to Cincinnati.
Pinch-hitter Kelby Tomlinson doubled leading off the ninth against Rockies closer Boone Logan, who then allowed Brandon Belt’s two-out infield single. Adam Ottavino retired Buster Posey on a groundout to third to end it for his sixth save.
The Giants’ lone runner to reach second before the ninth was Angel Pagan on a wild pitch in the second. What a contrast from San Francisco’s free-swinging performance Tuesday, when it produced 10 extra-base hits with three home runs, four triples and three doubles.
“Two different teams,” manager Bruce Bochy said of his club from one night to the next. “Chatwood’s been tough on us. He was good tonight. We just couldn’t figure him out. We had a runner on second base one time through eight innings. That’s going to work. We pitched well, we played well, this offense couldn’t get it going, couldn’t figure him out.”
Twice baserunners were caught stealing and the Giants grounded into a pair of double plays. They know they have serious work to do in order to keep alive a streak of World Series championships in even years this decade: 2010, ’12 and ’14.
Samardzija has struck out nine or more Colorado batters in each of his past three starts against the Rockies. With runners on first and third and one out in the sixth, Samardzija induced an inning-ending double play by Nolan Arenado.
“He can put the ball on the ground with the best of them. He got two huge double plays. To shut that team down for eight innings, that was impressive,” Weiss said.
Arenado and Gerardo Parra each hit RBI singles for the Rockies.
In Thursday night’s series finale, San Francisco will try to win just its second home series since the All-Star break and fourth series overall in 22 over the second half.
San Francisco was shut out for the 13th time, nine of those coming after the All-Star break.
Rockies: NL batting leader DJ LeMahieu, hitting .349, had the night off as Weiss went with Daniel Descalso. Weiss will pick his moments when to use LeMahieu over the final week.
Giants: While INF Eduardo Nunez still hopes to return from a hamstring injury this weekend for the season-ending series against the NL West champion Dodgers, manager Bruce Bochy considers it “questionable.” Nunez has a mild right hamstring pull. … RHP Johnny Cueto’s strained left groin felt fine a day after his bullpen session and he is set to start Thursday’s series finale.
Rockies: RHP Jon Gray (10-9, 4.45 ERA) has struck out 26 batters his past two starts, most in a two-game span in club history.
Giants: Cueto (17-5, 2.79) is 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA in three starts against the Rockies this season.