DENVER The sprinklers at Coors Field turned on in the fourth inning Monday and then quickly shut off. There would be no washing away the latest ugly road start by Barry Zito.
The left-hander entered the night with a 9.45 ERA away from home and saw that figure rise after giving up five runs in four innings against the Colorado Rockies. The Giants weren't any better at the plate while falling 6-1 in the first of a nine-game trip.
Every time Zito takes the mound down the stretch, he could be making his final start in orange and black. Monday's start did nothing to change that reality. The Giants will not pick up Zito's option for the 2014 season, but manager Bruce Bochy reiterated the club still hopes to bring back three key free agents.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence and Javier Lopez were, like most MLB players, put on waivers in recent days and quickly claimed.
The Giants weren't expected to negotiate with the claiming teams, and Bochy said the plan all along has been to have the three finish the season in San Francisco. He would like the pending free agents to start next season in Giants uniforms, too.
"These are decisions that are made at the end of the season, but we think a lot of all three with what they've done here," Bochy said. "This will be ironed out once the season is over, but from my perspective we think a lot of those three."
Before Monday's loss, Bochy talked specifically about Pence. The outfielder has started all 131 games this season and would like to be in the lineup for all 162. Bochy said he intends to let Pence aim for the feat.
"He's the one guy who earned the right to be out there every day," Bochy said.
Pence's bid nearly ended in the first inning when he slammed into the wall as Michael Cuddyer raced for a triple. Pence went down and grabbed his chest but remained in the game.
The loss was the seventh in a row for Zito, who was unbeaten after Aug. 2 last season.