After the top of the seventh inning Tuesday, in which the Giants allowed five runs to turn a 5-3 lead into a three-run deficit, hundreds of fans at AT&T Park started filing toward the exits.
They missed quite a show.
The final four innings of the Giants’ 10-inning, 9-8 loss to the Cincinnati Reds contained a stretch run’s worth of drama. By the end, the Giants had sent two pitchers up to pinch-hit, used another nine on the mound, thrown two Reds out at the plate in one inning and rallied in the ninth to force extras against one of baseball’s most untouchable closers.
Meanwhile, on the out-of-town scoreboard, the Dodgers and Rockies went back and forth in Los Angeles, with each momentum swing feeling as though it could -- for the moment, at least -- set a new course for the final three weeks in the N.L. West.
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Ultimately, though, one Todd Frazier swing on a Sergio Romo fastball in the 10th proved the difference -- a solo home run that snapped the Giants’ four-game losing streak. And a Giants team that, above all, needs wins to keep its long-shot postseason hopes alive was unable to gain ground on the Dodgers, who themselves fell in 16 innings.
"Wild game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Entertaining, but tough loss. The boys battled hard but the seventh inning killed us. Couple errors, walks, a hit batsman. You’re asking for trouble then. That inning got us."
The Giants had rallied from a 3-0 first inning deficit with a three-run home run by Buster Posey, a pinch-hit homer from Jarrett Parker -- the first major-league homer of his career -- and an RBI double by Brandon Belt in the sixth. But after Josh Osich walked Skip Schumaker with one out in the seventh, the inning got weird.
Jason Bourgeois tapped a grounder in front of the plate that Osich fielded and threw wide of first base. The ball bounded into the visitors’ bullpen, where Marlon Byrd picked it up and threw home. Schumaker, trying to score from first, was originally ruled safe, but the Giants challenged and the call was overturned.
They couldn’t capitalize on the break. Osich allowed an RBI single to Jay Bruce. Javier Lopez entered and coaxed a grounder out of Joey Votto, but Brandon Belt mishandled it for just his third error of the season, leaving runners on first and third. Hunter Strickland replaced Lopez and allowed an RBI single to Brandon Phillips that tied the game.
Strickland then got ahead of Todd Frazier, 0-2, but hit him to load the bases and walked Ivan De Jesus, Jr., to force in a run. Pinch-hitter Ramon Cabrera drove in two more with a single off George Kontos, and the Giants only escaped the inning when De Jesus tried to score on a wild pitch and was thrown out at the plate.
"Bullpen’s done a great job, they have, and they’ve been used a lot," Bochy said. "We just pretty much beat ourselves in that inning. It wasn’t where they hit their way to five runs. We just made some mistakes, they took advantage of them."
The Giants clawed back again, with the seminal moment coming as pitcher Madison Bumgarner pinch-hit in the eighth inning against hard-throwing Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. Bumgarner, representing the tying run with two outs, worked a seven-pitch walk that included fouling off a 99 mph fastball and taking a 102 mph pitch for a ball.
"Season’s pretty much on the line every time we go out there," Bumgarner said. "You want me to tell you he throws hard? It’s pretty clear he throws hard … 102, whatever it was, trying to hit the ball just the same."
Bumgarner’s walk loaded the bases and Chapman hit Ehire Adrianza to force in a run. The Giants then tied the game in the ninth, handing Chapman just his third blown save this season, with Posey delivering the game-tying single on a first-pitch single to left.
The excitement, however, was short-lived. Sergio Romo entered in the 10th and gave up just his third home run of the season to Frazier. And the Giants’ attempt at one last rally ended when Angel Pagan popped out against Jumbo Diaz to end the game, stranding Alejandro De Aza at second base.
"They were trying to find a way to win," Bochy said. "That’s a tough loss, but I just love the way they kept fighting. They found a way to get back and tie the game.
"We had our chances, and just couldn’t finish it."
* Belt was caught too far off second base after his RBI double in the sixth and thrown out diving back to the bag. He also appeared to hit his head against the leg of a Reds infielder and looked momentarily shaken up before staying in the game.
Belt has a history with concussions, but he said after the game the main concern was with his neck.
"It stiffened up a little bit," he said. "But it’s fine. Just going to monitor overnight and see how it feels tomorrow, but I anticipate it being OK."
Bochy said he was getting ready to put Jackson Williams in the game if Belt had to come out, but Belt returned to the dugout and said he was "good to go."
* The Reds jumped out to their 3-0 first-inning lead against Chris Heston, who settled in from there and allowed just one more hit while striking out eight in five innings. When teams have gotten to Heston this season, it has tended to be early. He went into Tuesday’s start with a 4.28 ERA in innings 1-3, but just a 2.82 ERA after that.
"He regrouped and did a pretty good job after the first inning," Bochy said. "He was just out of sync that inning, and I’ve said so many times, that first inning they’re trying to get settled in. He got in a good rhythm and threw the ball well."
* Parker has now had two at-bats since being recalled by the Giants last week. He’s seen three pitches and hit an RBI double and a home run. The double came on the second pitch of the at-bat, and he jumped the first pitch from Ryan Mattheus on Tuesday night for his first big-league homer. It was also the Giants’ first pinch-hit home run this season.
"I think when I was up in June I was a little hesitant," Parker said. "I didn’t like that I did that, so I said the next time I get called up, I’m going to be aggressive, let it all hang out. That’s what I’ve been trying to do recently."
The Giants had to do some negotiating after the game to get Parker the ball from his big moment – game-used and signed memorabilia were exchanged for it -- even though the ball certainly will mean more to Parker years from now than to the fans who caught it.
That part aside, Parker said the experience of his first big-league homer "felt great. Just trying to make something happen, trying to get a lead right there, got a good pitch to hit and drove it. Pretty amazing feeling."
* It was one high on a roller-coaster night that ultimately ended on a down-slope. Yet with the Dodgers losing in the 16th inning in L.A., the top of the N.L. West remained the same, with the Giants still 7 ½ games back. They did lose a game in the wild-card race, due to the Cubs winning, meaning they’re 7 ½ back in that chase, too.
The finale of this series has Jake Peavy (6-6, 4.15) opposing Reds right-hander Michael Lorenzen (4-8, 5.45) on Wednesday night. First pitch at 7:15 p.m.