"When I saw him fall down, that's when I started running hard," Sandoval said. "Halfway between first and second, that's when I thought I had a chance to make it."
Sandoval slid headfirst into third base with a triple to complete the first cycle of his career and the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 8-5 on Thursday night to keep their slim postseason hopes alive.
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The Giants have won five straight and prevented Arizona from moving closer to clinching the NL West. The Diamondbacks lead the Giants by seven games with 12 to play.
"We've got a chance," Sandoval said. "You never know what's going to happen."
Sandoval did his part to keep the Giants alive with his career night. He hit a home run in the first, doubled in the second and singled in the fifth. He said he wasn't thinking about the cycle when San Francisco came to bat in the sixth.
The rest of the team knew what he needed.
"I was rubbing his legs saying, 'Hey, I've got to get these things loose for a triple,' " manager Bruce Bochy said. "He said, 'Nah, I'm not even thinking about it.' Sure enough, he hit the perfect ball. It's a great game for Pablo. It's quite a feat."
Sandoval is the 25th Giant to hit for the cycle and the first since Fred Lewis accomplished the feat May 13, 2007, also at Coors Field. It is the 10th cycle recorded at Coors Field.
The four hits all came against starter Jhoulys Chacin (11-12).
"He hit everything I threw," Chacin said. "He hit a homer with a fastball, the base hit was a changeup. [The double] was off the plate and down and he just put the bat on it and he hit it to the other side. It was his night."
It was all starter Ryan Vogelsong needed to end a personal five-game losing streak. Vogelsong pitched effectively into the sixth inning and had two hits.
"I wouldn't get too excited about those two hits, but I'll take them," he said.
The Giants gave him an early lead to work with thanks to Sandoval's bat and poor fielding by the Rockies.
San Francisco went ahead 2-0 in the first when Carlos Beltran singled with two outs and Sandoval sent a drive into the second deck in right, his 20th.
The Giants used two Colorado errors to extend the lead in the second. Brandon Crawford scored on a throwing error by shortstop Tommy Field. Jeff Keppinger hit a sacrifice fly and Jordan Pacheco misplayed Beltran's grounder at first, allowing Cody Ross to score from second to make it 5-0.
The Rockies got one back in the third when Chacin scored from third on Mark Ellis' single. Pacheco made it 5-2 when he led off the fourth with his second home run.
San Francisco made it 7-2 in the sixth on an RBI double by Ross, who scored on a double play grounder by Beltran.
"It was great to jump on top like that," Vogelsong said. "Definitely takes some of the pressure off."
Vogelsong (11-7) allowed two runs and four hits, walked four and struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings.
Santiago Casilla pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
Brandon Belt led off the ninth with his sixth home run to make it 8-5.
Chacin gave up seven runs -- four earned -- and nine hits, walked four and struck out one in 5 2/3 innings.
- Sandoval is the second player to hit for the cycle this season. Milwaukee catcher George Kottaras did it against Houston on Sept. 3.
- Gonzalez left the game in the seventh after aggravating his right wrist on Sandoval's triple.
- Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki (hip) and 1B Todd Helton (back tightness) missed their second successive game.
- Giants closer Brian Wilson (right elbow strain) threw a side session Thursday.
- Left-hander Madison Bumgarner will face Colorado rookie right-hander Alex White on Friday in the second game of the four-game series. Bumgarner is 0-3 in five starts against the Rockies while White has never faced the Giants.