by Michael Martinez
SAN FRANCISCO – Johnny Cueto (13-3) appeared to have his first win since the All Star break in the bag after he threw a solid six and two thirds innings, allowing just three runs on eight hits with four strikeouts. Cueto also had a nice day at the plate putting together two hits and driving in a run. However, the Giants bullpen fell apart in the late innings and allowed the Orioles to make things competitive.
Hunter Strickland came in to relieve Cueto and got out of a seventh inning jam but gave up two runs in the seventh to let the Orioles back into the ball game, which included a solo shot by Mark Trumbo. The blast was Trumbo’s was number 34 of the season he still leads the AL in that category.
Derek Law replaced Strickland in the eighth and was able to limit the damage as the Giants still held a 7-5 lead heading into the top half of the ninth.
Then Santiago Casilla came into the game and not only let two runners get on base, but threw a hanging curveball right over the heart of the plate to Baltimore second baseman, Johnathan Schoop. Schoop made Casilla pay as he crushed the hanging breaking ball into the left field bleachers to give the Orioles the lead, eight to seven. The homer marked Casilla’s fifth blown save of the year.
“I have confidence in all my pitches,” Casilla said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “I threw the curveball, and I just made a mistake. The ball didn’t break.”
The Giants then tried to make something happen off Orioles closer Zach Britton in the bottom of the ninth, but unfortunately could not get a run across the plate to push the game into extra innings. Britton added to his league leading save total, 37, as Baltimore sits just a half game behind the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the AL East.
For San Francisco, its their 18th loss since the Mid Summer Classic and a real bad one after they held a six run lead heading into the top of the seventh.
The orange and black hit their stride at the plate, tallying 14 hits for seven runs and forced Orioles skipper, Buck Showalter, to remove starter Wade Miley in the fifth inning.
Giants back up catcher Trevor Brown got the scoring started with an RBI single in the second inning. Brown got the start behind the dish after Buster Posey was a last minute scratch due to back tightness. The injury could have been sustained from the flight back and has gradually worsened, according to Posey.
Before Sunday’s ball game, Brown had been hitless in his last seven at bats, with just three hits in his last 19. But Brown made the most out of his start and was a huge spark for SF’s offense. He finished the game three for five with three RBIs.
“He’s been great,” Posey said about Brown’s performance this year. “He gave us a chance to win the game.”
Outfielder Hunter Pence also had a good game and it appears his swing could be coming into form. Pence hit a bomb to center field, 436 feet to be exact, and added a single during the Giants big fifth inning. Pence’s dinger was his first since returning from the disabled list. Prior to today’s game, Pence had not put one into the seats dating all the way back to May 18.
Fortunately, the Dodgers (65-52) lost to Pittsburgh on Sunday, 11-3, keeping the Giants a game ahead in the NL West.
After blowing a huge lead and taking a loss in what looked to be the Giants first back-to-back wins since July 30 and 31 as well as their second consecutive series victory, San Francisco will take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at home tomorrow night at 7:15 p.m. PT as Matt Moore takes the mound.
“I think everyone knows what’s at stake. I don’t think there’s really any motivation needed,” Posey said. “This time of the year, this is when it’s fun. Each game as we get further and further along will have a little more importance on it. I think the group of guys in here generally thrive in these situations.”