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Crawford continues prolific month at the plate, leads Giants to win over Rockies

SAN FRANCISCO–Brandon Crawford spent the month of April much like a fan who forgot a jacket would spend a night game in the bleachers at AT&T Park.
The Giants shortstop was stuck in the fog and absolutely freezing at the plate.
Fast forward to the middle of May and Crawford is suddenly radiating heat. With three hits including a two-run home run on Saturday, Crawford once again served as the Giants primary offensive catalyst in a 9-4 win over the Rockies.
With 31 hits in his last 68 at-bats, the three-time Gold Glove winner and smoothest-fielding shortstop in the National League is now leading all of baseball with a .449 batting average since the start of May.
Crawford’s sixth inning home run into the right field arcade helped break open Saturday’s contest against Colorado, but it was hardly the only frustration he caused for Rockies pitchers.
The Giants’ two hottest hitters right now are both named Brandon, as Belt started the day leading the club in nearly all major offensive categories while Crawford had raised his batting average more than 100 points since the start of the month.
After posting a .189 batting average and two RBIs in his first 27 games, Crawford drove in four more runs to bring his total to 17 in his last 18 contests.
Both Brandons played pivotal roles in the Giants’ third inning rally, as Belt worked an 0-2 count before drawing a walk to load the bases with no one out. After an Evan Longoria flyout, Crawford stepped in and drilled a two-run double that dropped in just inside the left field line to push the Giants in front 3-2.
With his second hit of the day, Crawford bumped his average for the season over .300 and finished the game leading all National League shortstops by at least 35 points.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Giants had a chance to add to their lead when Gregor Blanco hit a triple that caromed off of first baseman Ian Desmond before bounced against a bag of baseballs in the Rockies bullpen. Colorado starter Jon Gray retired the next two hitters, but manager Bud Black pulled Gray in favor of the left-handed Chris Rusin with Belt coming up.
The Giants first baseman wasn’t fazed, though, as he blooped an RBI single into shallow center field to pad his team’s lead.
With a 5-4 advantage in the sixth, Andrew McCutchen slugged his first of two doubles on the afternoon with a liner into the left field corner to plate a pair of two-out runs. McCutchen also blooped a double into left center field in the seventh, but was removed from the game for a defensive replacement in the eighth and appeared to be dealing with a knee issue.
After collecting wins in two straight games to start the series, the Rockies wasted little time jumping on the board Saturday as third baseman Nolan Arenado drove in Charlie Blackmon with a one-out single in the first. Colorado added to its lead with a run in the second, but Chris Stratton delivered an RBI groundout to cut a 2-0 deficit in half in the bottom of the inning.
Though the Giants took the lead in the third and never looked back, Stratton struggled to contain a Rockies lineup that capitalized on opportunities when leadoff runners reached base. The right-hander lasted five innings and allowed a run in four separate innings that started with either leadoff singles or a walk.
Stratton did limit a pair of Rockies threats by inducing groundball double plays in the second and fourth innings, but manager Bruce Bochy lifted Stratton in the bottom of the fifth for a pinch hitter after he had thrown 80 pitches.
An Austin Jackson pinch hit single and a quick nine-pitch sixth inning from Will Smith assured Bochy he had made the right decision, but with both Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto on the disabled list, the Giants are still looking for more consistency from Stratton.

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