SAN FRANCISCO -- Hours before losing a wild, 11-inning game to the Diamondbacks on Monday night, 9-7, the Giants had already suffered a different kind of loss.
Reliever George Kontos was diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon in his right elbow and will likely be placed on the disabled list Tuesday. It’s the same injury that landed Sergio Romo, another key right-hander in the Giants’ bullpen, on the DL late last week.
"He’s out for a while," manager Bruce Bochy said of Kontos. "We had some tests done today. It’s been bothering him a little bit, we had him checked out and sure enough it showed a flexor strain. That kind of hurt us tonight. We could have used him."
After starter Jake Peavy came out of Monday’s game with no outs in the sixth inning, the Diamondbacks went on to score five runs against the Giants’ bullpen, overcoming a four-run lead the Giants had built in the fifth.
The Giants were one strike away from finishing out a one-run win in the ninth, but closer Santiago Casilla, seeking his 100th career save, allowed a game-tying home run to Jake Lamb for his second blown save of the season. Two innings later, Arizona broke the tie with two runs against a wild Chris Heston, the sixth of seven pitchers Bochy used on the night.
While the Giants did not announce a roster move after the game, Bochy said they will "get some help (Tuesday)" in the bullpen. Still, losing Kontos, especially with Romo already out, is significant. Kontos had a 2.33 ERA in 73 appearances last year and had allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings to begin this season -- even while his elbow was already acting up.
"He felt it a little bit in spring training, he’s been battling it a little bit," Bochy said of Kontos’ injury. "It’s pretty amazing, really -- his stuff was pretty good the last couple outings with this flexor strain. But he needs a break."
The Giants have hard-throwing right-hander Mike Broadway, who spent some of last season in San Francisco, at Triple-A Sacramento, along with prospects like Ray Black and -- if they’re looking for more length -- Clayton Blackburn. The River Cats are at home, so getting a player to San Francisco on Tuesday shouldn’t pose a challenge.
A silver lining to the Giants’ bullpen injuries is that right-hander Derek Law, called up last week to replace Romo, made his second major-league appearance and was sharp again, striking out two in a scoreless inning. Law has faced seven hitters in the majors and struck out five of them.
"It’s obviously tough blows that we’ve been dealt there with Serge and George," Peavy said Monday night. "That being said, it’s the San Francisco Giant way -- next guy up.
"We’ve got guys in Triple-A with experience who were in camp with us and this is going to help them grow. We’re watching Derek Law come up and take the experience he’s had in spring trainings and jump right in and help. We expect the next guy up to do that. This bullpen is going to be just fine. There’s nobody in here worried about that end of things."
The Giants’ bullpen entered Monday with a collective 2.56 ERA but saw that jump to 3.35 as the Diamondbacks staged multiple late-inning rallies. The first three batters in the eighth singled off of Strickland, and sacrifice flies from Welington Castillo and Rickie Weeks tied the game 6-6.
The Giants took the lead back in the bottom of the inning when Denard Span hit his first triple as a Giant into the gap in right-center and scored on a wild pitch. That set the stage for Casilla to attempt his 100th career save. He retired the first two hitters in the ninth, but left a two-strike fastball inside to Lamb, who hit a high, arcing fly ball that bounced on top of the right-field brick wall -- short of the seats -- for a home run.
"That’s what happens when you miss a spot," Casilla said. "They make you pay."
Heston pitched a scoreless 10th inning with two strikeouts, but his second inning became messy. Phil Gosselin lined a leadoff single to center and moved to second on a sacrifice. Heston got Brandon Drury to pop out, but with Jean Segura up he bounced a pitch that got away from Buster Posey, allowing Gosselin to take third.
That proved costly when Segura hit a slow chopper up the middle that second baseman Joe Panik couldn’t make a play on, resulting in an infield hit and Gosselin scoring the go-ahead run. After that, Heston allowed two more hits, threw two more wild pitches and walked two batters -- one intentionally -- before Javier Lopez came in to get the last out.
"It seemed like once they got the infield hit he lost a little focus there, and had trouble throwing strikes at that point," Bochy said. "That’s a tough break, he makes a good pitch, infield hit, they take the lead. But you’ve got to settle down and hold them there. He got out of sorts after that."
The Giants lost for the fifth time in six games and are now 3-4 in games this season that have been decided by one or two runs. They’ll go forward missing two key members of their bullpen, which came away from Monday’s game both depleted and with its pride a little battered.
"We’re struggling a little right now," Casilla said. "This game today, we’re not looking good. But I believe in that bullpen, too. Sometimes this is what happens in the game. Sometimes we win, sometimes we need to lose. We need to keep working.
"We’ll be OK."