SF@COL: Scutaro singles in first to extend hit streak

DENVER -- Though the Giants could have used Marco Scutaro's hot hitting and Buster Posey's formidable presence to bolster Sunday's lineup, manager Bruce Bochy considered their long-term welfare and left both regulars on the bench for the series finale against the Colorado Rockies.

At 37, Scutaro will need occasional breaks to remain offensively productive. The second baseman entered Sunday with a Major League-best 17-game hitting streak that lifted his batting average from .215 to .331. Ironically, Scutaro's success may have partially accounted for the need to rest him, since he has reached base so frequently. He's batting .486 (34-for-70) during his streak.

Bochy cited the duration of the first three games of this series as a reason for resting Posey, who has started 40 of 44 games, including 36 at the grueling catcher's spot. The average time of each game was three hours and 11 minutes.

"Those are some long days back there," Bochy said.

Scutaro and Posey are virtually certain to return to the lineup Monday when the Giants open a three-game series against the Washington Nationals. And they'll receive another breather on Thursday's scheduled off-day.

Giants have few rotation alternatives in Minors

Top Prospects: Chris Heston, RHP, Giants

DENVER -- The Giants' decision makers have an excellent reason for remaining patient with their struggling starting pitchers:

Who's suitable to replace any of them?

The organization's top pitching prospects, such as Clayton Blackburn, Kyle Crick and Chris Stratton, are at Class A and need much more Minor League seasoning.

The alternatives at Triple-A Fresno come with question marks. The Grizzlies' most consistent starter probably has been 33-year-old Shane Loux, who's 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA. A veteran of 17 professional seasons, Loux was 1-0 with a 4.97 ERA in 19 relief appearances with the Giants last year. He allowed 32 hits in 25 1/3 innings.

Yusmeiro Petit, who also has Major League experience, might have been considered the Giants' first option in an emergency. But he's 2-3 with a 6.69 ERA. Boof Bonser has similar numbers (1-3, 5.31).

Right-hander Chris Heston and left-hander Mike Kickham, who drew plenty of attention in Spring Training as potential heirs to a rotation spot, have struggled at times in their transition from Double-A to Triple-A. Heston's 5-2 with a 5.33 ERA and a .320 opponents' batting average, while Kickham is 2-4, 4.72. Both, however, thrived against New Orleans in their most recent starts. Heston allowed three hits in seven shutout innings last Thursday; Kickham yielded an unearned run and four hits in six innings while striking out eight Saturday.