Tight Squeeze: Giants’ NL West lead just one game after 7-4 loss to the Padres

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Well, this divisional race won’t be blurting out magic numbers anytime soon… if at all.

The Giants fell to the Padres 7-4 on Thursday afternoon, a second consecutive loss after nine straight wins that has the upstarts clinging to a one game lead over the establishment with 15 games remaining for both.

San Francisco’s season for the ages could also include a regular season finish for the ages. With the two best teams in baseball battling in one division–along with being long time bitter rivals–it doesn’t get any better than this. The Padres–with six games remaining with San Francisco, and three with Los Angeles–will have a say along with trying to further their own playoff hopes.

“The Padres are fighting to get in, too, and we’re fighting to win a division. They’re certainly not going to roll over and just hand it to us. They have some guys who are having some really good years. I know they’ve had some injuries over there, but they’re a good team, and we’ll see them a bunch over these next two weeks,” Kris Bryant said.

On Thursday, the Padres were very good. Losers of 21 of 30 coming in, they roughed up Kevin Gausman with eight hits and four runs through five innings. Gausman was looking for his 15th win, but he left early, trailing 4-0. After putting up a paltry two runs in two lopsided losses to start the series, the Padres bounced back with 30 hits on Wednesday and Thursday, many of them of heavy contact variety.

“I think we can chalk it up to kind of running into the best version of them,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

The Giants streak of scoring at least six runs ended at 10 games, and again, like Wednesday night, the offense came in pieces not chunks. After Pierce Johnson and Nabil Crismatt shut the Giants offense down through five innings, they scored single runs in innings six through nine. Not only was the output lacking, the hosts failed to put the pressure on the previous faltering guests by climbing within a couple of runs. The Padres’ three-run seventh keyed by pinch hitter Wil Myers and Manny Machado ended all the suspense.

Evan Longoria homered in the eighth inning and contributed two hits. And all eight position players in the starting lineup had at least one hit for the Giants, but with runners on base the whole lineup couldn’t produce. The Giants finished 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

On Friday, the Giants open a series with the Braves, leaders of the NL East. Red hot Logan Webb will face Ian Anderson in the opener at 6:45pm. The Dodgers were off on Thursday, and they travel to Cincinnati for a meeting with the Reds to start their final, 9-game road trip of the season.

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