Giants can't cash in at plate, lose to Cubs on homer in ninth
07/28/2013 12:00 AM
07/29/2013 8:04 AM
SAN FRANCISCO – Numerically, the Giants' season reached a new low Saturday night, as they fell a season-high 11 games under .500 with their 1-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs. It could be argued the statistical significance of the loss was mirrored in the way it came about.
The Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning of a 0-0 game and failed to score, then saw former Giant Nate Schierholtz hit a tie-breaking home run off Sergio Romo in the top of the ninth. They loaded the bases again with one out in the bottom of the inning, but pinch hitter Tony Abreu grounded into a game-ending double play.
The Giants fell to 3-6 on their homestand and into a virtual tie for last place in the National League West with the Padres, whose winning percentage is one-thousandth of a point better.
"It's quiet in that clubhouse, believe me," manager Bruce Bochy said. "They're trying hard. They're probably pressing a little bit trying to get out of this. These are games we normally win. And right now, we're not executing."
Madison Bumgarner gave the Giants eight scoreless innings and has now allowed one run in 15 innings over his last two starts – in which he is 0-1. Bumgarner didn't allow a Cubs runner past first base until the sixth Saturday and threw a season-high 116 pitches but received no help from a Giants lineup that didn't put a runner on until the fifth against Cubs left-hander Chris Rusin, making his 10th career start.
That's when the real frustration set in. The Giants put 11 runners on over the final five innings and none scored. After Rusin departed, the Giants loaded the bases in the eighth against reliever Pedro Strop on a walk and two bunts, with the middle of the order coming up and the opportunity remaining to make Bumgarner a winner.
Buster Posey staged a nine-pitch at-bat that ended with a broken-bat grounder to Starlin Castro, who threw home for the out. Pablo Sandoval hit the first pitch from Strop to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who came home to force out Andres Torres. And Hunter Pence struck out swinging on a slider, with Strop striking a fists-clenched pose.
"We had excellent pitching," Pence said. "It's extremely tough when you pitch that good and you aren't able to capitalize on it."
In his last eight starts, Bumgarner has gone at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer earned runs. He has a 1.58 ERA in that span, has allowed 30 hits while striking out 56 batters in 57 innings, but his record is 5-3. Asked if he thinks the Giants are pressing, Bumgarner said it's probably "only natural with the way things are going."
"You've just got to keep going forward and keep working hard," Bumgarner said. "You can't stop and start taking it easy and coasting. You've got to keep pushing. You never know what might happen the rest of the season."
Romo struck out the first batter he faced in the ninth before Schierholtz hit a full-count fastball into the seats in right-center.
Romo, also on the mound for Brandon Belt's game-changing error in the Giants' 3-2 loss Friday night, suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in his career.
"Just right down the middle," Romo said. "That's what happens. This is the big leagues. You make bad pitches and they're going to hurt you."
Belt had a shot at redemption in the seventh Saturday, but his two-out line drive with Pence standing on third was snared by Rizzo on a leap. Pence had a leadoff double that could have been more had it not bounced over the wall in Triples Alley.
"This is part of baseball – it doesn't always go your way," Pence said. "It's definitely tough. It's frustrating and it's not fun to be not getting wins and not having things fall your way. But at the same time, you've got to see the opportunity to be out here playing and competing. You've got to see the opportunity in the tough times, too."
Et cetera – Right-hander Guillermo Moscoso, acquired via trade Friday, joined the team and could be activated today, Bochy said.
About This BlogMatt Kawahara has covered baseball for The Sacramento Bee for three years. Kawahara, a McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley graduate, joined The Bee in 2010. Before joining Sports, he was a general assignment news reporter. Reach Kawahara at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @matthewkawahara.
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