Fans at AT&T Park on Tuesday night who’d last seen the Giants the last time they played at home might have felt they had some catching up to do.
Angel Pagan, still injured when the Giants’ last homestand ended July 30, was back atop the lineup and in center field. Brandon Belt was still out – or rather, out again, following a recurrence of concussion symptoms. The fresh-faced kid wearing No. 50 was infielder Matt Duffy, called up from Double A on Aug. 1. The new No. 22 was Jake Peavy, switching to the number last worn – briefly – by Dan Uggla.
What had not changed was the Giants’ gradual slide down the standings over the last two months. They entered Tuesday trailing the Dodgers by five games in the National League West, their largest deficit of the season. And the gap grew to six Tuesday night, as they were unable to capitalize on both a strong outing by Ryan Vogelsong and a dramatic late comeback in a 10-inning, 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox, their fifth loss in a row.
After being shut out for eight innings by All-Star Chris Sale, who matched his season high with 12 strikeouts, the Giants rallied to tie the score 2-2 in the ninth against reliever Jake Petricka, with Brandon Crawford’s two-out, two-strike single scoring Duffy for the tying run.
But the White Sox took the lead right back against Santiago Casilla in the 10th. With one out, Jordan Danks walked and moved to third on a Moises Sierra single. Danks then tried to score on an Alejandro De Aza ground ball and was thrown out at home by Duffy. But Gordon Beckham lined a single into left field, bringing Sierra home with the decisive run.
Beckham also had made a key defensive play in the ninth that might have kept the Giants from winning it then. After the Giants loaded the bases against Petricka with no outs, Joe Panik hit a ball up the middle that seemed destined for center field. But Beckham gloved it on a backhand dive to start a 4-6-3 double play.
“That was one of the best double plays I’ve ever seen,” said Hunter Pence, “especially in that situation. It looked like a hit off the bat, and not only did he lay out and catch it, they turned two off it.”
Pablo Sandoval scored the Giants’ first run on the play, and Duffy was left standing on third. On a 1-2 count, Crawford then grounded a single to right field to score Duffy and reward those of the announced 42,317 fans who had stuck around with a reason to celebrate.
It deprived Sale of a win and gave Vogelsong a reprieve from what would have been an undeserved loss. The White Sox managed just three hits against Vogelsong during his seven innings but had one crucial one that left the field of play. With two outs in the first inning, Adam Dunn drove an 0-1 fastball into the seats in left-center – the second homer allowed by Vogelsong in 13 starts this season at AT&T Park – staking Sale to a two-run lead before he’d thrown a pitch.
Vogelsong stranded Conor Gillaspie after a leadoff triple in the second and did not allow another hit, departing in line for a loss despite letting just five hitters reach base in seven innings. It was a too-familiar scenario for Vogelsong, who came in receiving the fewest runs of support per game among N.L. starters at home and got zero support for the fourth consecutive outing at AT&T Park.
“I thought we played hard, that’s all you can ask for,” Vogelsong said. “Guys played hard and came back. It’s a game of inches, man. That ball gets by (Beckham), we’re talking about a whole different ballgame.”
Sale, the tall and lanky left-hander throwing from a near-sidearm angle, hit 98 mph on the stadium radar gun with his first pitch to Pence in the first. Pence then tripled into the right-center-field gap, but he was thrown out at home trying to score on a Buster Posey ground ball. Pence appeared to hesitate before breaking for the plate, giving shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who was playing back, enough time to go home for the out.
“I hesitated,” Pence said. “I was supposed to not be going if it was (hit at) third, so in an effort to try to read to make sure it wasn’t at third, I hesitated more than I should. I made a mistake.”
The Giants did not hit another ball into the outfield until Panik chopped a single into right field with one out in the fifth.