By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO — Whatever momentum the Giants were attempting to seize Wednesday flew over the centerfield wall on the 14th pitch of the ballgame.
Matt Chapman homered off Tyler Beede–the first of his two home runs on the day–and the A’s were off to the races in their 9-5 win that gained them a split of the brief, two-game Bay Bridge Series.
The A’s scored in six of the nine innings, establishing a 7-0 lead in the eight before the Giants rallied with five runs to temporarily make things interesting. Beede surrendered the first eight of Oakland’s 15 hits in a performance that proved there’s currently an imbalance in the abilities of the two Bay Area clubs.
Beede’s struggles put the microscope on the Giants’ rotation that has youthful inexperience in three of the five spots at this critical juncture of the season. Beede is last of the three to win a start, and that was back on July 14. Since then, Beede lost four of his six starts, allowing at least eight hits four times. Manager Bruce Bochy conceded the performances of Shaun Anderson, Connor Menez and Beede are a concern.
“It’s up to me to try to get this figured out,” Bochy said. “You know when you bring up young pitchers you’re going to have some growing pains, and that’s the case.”
Beede’s inability to get ahead in counts played right into the hands of the patient A’s lineup. Matt Olson singled, doubled and was hit by a pitch with Beede in the game, and A’s starting pitcher Homer Bailey fouled off a couple of offerings, then got lucky with a dribbler that turned into an RBI single that made it 2-0. Olson’s double scored two more runs, and Beede was done, one batter into the fifth inning.
“He’s really good at times and then it gets away from him a little bit,” Bochy said of Beede.
Travis Bergen, one of the relievers getting an extended look after the Giants reconfigured their bullpen at the trade deadline, allowed a two-run shot to Robbie Grossman in the sixth to make it 6-0.
Down 7-0, the Giants rallied for five runs in the eighth with Mike Yasztremski’s three-run shot the centerpiece. But Chapman’s second home run in the ninth restored the A’s cushion to three runs.
Alex Dickerson was activated from the injured list but was not in the Giants’ starting lineup. The valuable outfielder pinch hit in the eighth, his ground ball out allowed Evan Longoria to score from third.
The Giants fell below .500 with the loss, which took on more significance when combined with the results on the out-of-town scoreboard. The Phillies, Brewers and Nationals all won, leaving the Giants four games behind the pace of the Cardinals, the current holder of the second wild card spot.
The Giants start another big series in Phoenix on Thursday, the first of four games against the team immediately above in the playoff hunt. Dereck Rodriguez appears to be the likely starter in that one, opposed by Arizona’s Alex Young.