DENVER -- The next time Rockies manager Walt Weiss starts right-handed-hitting Brandon Barnes in the leadoff spot, instead of sizzling Charlie Blackmon, it just might not set off a social media and fantasy player firestorm.
On Tuesday, Weiss looked at the matchup with difficult Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner and decided to sit Blackmon and his .411 batting average. All Barnes did in Blackmon's stead was go 2-for-4 against Bumgarner in the Rockies' 2-1 victory.
The Rockies won on solo homers by Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado, but Barnes at least showed that the club could go to him with confidence in a tight game.
"It's huge, motivation to keep going and keep grinding it out," said Barnes, who earned another start Wednesday afternoon against the Giants' Matt Cain and went 1-for-4 with two walks and a run. "You're not going to win every game by a big margin. When you're facing a tough pitcher, you've got to grind out the at-bats and hang in until you score runs and win."
Barnes started regularly last season with the Astros, but he is demonstrating this season he can function with sporadic opportunities. He is batting .317, with a .366 on-base percentage in sporadic starting opportunities (eight starts in 20 appearances). He has hit .300 as a substitute and is 2-for-7 plus has two sacrifice bunts as a pinch-hitter.
Rockies give CarGo a breather vs. Giants
DENVER -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss resisted the temptation to play slumping outfielder Carlos Gonzalez on Wednesday.
There was good cause to sit Gonzalez. Since a 10-game hit streak to start the season during which he hit .375, Gonzalez has gone 6-for-39 (.154) over the last 10 games entering Wednesday. And it's hard not to note that the slump began with an 0-for-4 against the Giants, including three hitless at-bats vs. Matt Cain, who happened to start against the Rockies on Wednesday. Gonzalez entered the day 4-for-44 against Cain. Then there's the left knee tendinitis that flared up Sunday.
Weiss has admitted in the past that he has put Gonzalez in the lineup against Cain, thinking he was due. But with the Rockies also off Thursday, giving a slumping star a chance at two days off won out.
Weiss said before Wednesday's game that if the game were tight and the Rockies need a big pinch-hit at-bat, he would turn to Gonzalez. He did just that in the 10th inning of an eventual 12-10 loss, sending Gonzalez to pinch-hit leading off the frame. He flied out off Giants lefty Javier Lopez.
"He's in play to try to help us win a game late," Weiss said. "It's a nice weapon to have sitting over there late in the game, especially the way the Giants like to match up with their bullpen and how good they are at it."
Aggressive approach working well for Brothers
DENVER -- Lefty reliever Rex Brothers is doing little thinking and even less caring, and it's working out for the Rockies.
In Tuesday night's 2-1 victory over the Giants, Brothers entered with two on and one out in the eighth to face dangerous Giants switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval and forced a double play on a first-pitch fastball.
The key was Brothers didn't care how dangerous Sandoval can be.
"That's one of those outside influences that, as a reliever in my mindset, I'm trying not to let that creep in," Brothers said. "No matter who it is, just make pitches. It's as simple as that.
"Obviously we had a game plan in place, but for me it's just being aggressive. If I stray away from that, that's where the wheels start turning and I try to be a little fine. Make my pitches and don't worry about it."
Before Brothers gave up a two-run homer in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 12-10 loss, the aggressiveness and the favorable location he had shown in his previous three outings, all scoreless with three strikeouts against one hit and no walks, were indications he was past a two-game mini-crisis. Brothers gave up a first-pitch, 10th-inning home run to the Giants' Brandon Crawford in a 5-4 loss on April 13 and walked three and threw a damaging wild pitch in a loss to the Padres the next night.
Prospect Gray flirts with perfection vs. Arkansas
Right-hander Jon Gray retired the first 17 batters he faced Wednesday, only to lose his perfect game, no-hitter and, ultimately, the game.
After breezing through the Arkansas lineup nearly three times, Gray ran into trouble with two outs in the sixth inning. Andy Workman broke up the perfect game with a single up the middle. He then stole second base and scored on Kyle Hudson's RBI single. Alex Yarborough followed with the third straight hit of the inning, but Hudson was thrown out at the plate to end the inning and Gray's day.
Despite the late trouble, Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, worked efficiently. Of his 92 pitches, 66 were strikes and he didn't walk a batter.
After a rough first two starts at Double-A, including allowing six runs in just two-thirds of an inning April 11, Gray has pitched much better in his last two outings. He earned his first victory at Double-A with 5 2/3 scoreless innings in his last start and nearly matched it Wednesday.
In 18 1/3 innings this season, Gray has a 4.91 ERA and a 19-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.