Giants bullpen gives up sure win in late innings

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.”

San Francisco Giants Friday game wrap: Brown, Crawford Go Deep To Down Dodgers In A Wild Comeback Win

By Shawn Whelchel

AP photo: No hitter going? That’s all for you, as Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts takes Dodger starter Ross Stripling out in the eighth inning despite pitching a no hitter vs. San Francisco Giants

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.-After nearly being on the receiving end of a historic no-hitter, the San Francisco Giants’ bats came alive late in the game to launch two home runs that would give the home team 2-0 series advantage over their rivals from the south.

After mustering just three baserunners through seven innings-all on walks- Trevor Brown’s homer in the eighth and Brandon Crawford’s long ball in the 10th would send the rain AT&T Park crowd home on a high note after the hometown squad would take both a no-hitter and a win away from the Dodgers on Saturday for a 3-2 victory.

Dodger rookie Ross Stripling put on a dazzling display of offspeed pitches mixed with solid fastball location that looked to put the Giants on the wrong side of a century old record for being no-hit by a debut pitcher.

But after completing 7 1/3 with a no-hitter in tact, a questionable move by manager Dave Roberts to pull the streaking youngster would lead another rookie to the spotlight instead.

The Giants first hit of the game would prove to be a crucial one, as C Trevor Brown’s first career home run would not only break up the Dodgers’ impending no-hitter, but would look to breathe new life into a stagnant Giants offense and send the game into 2-2 tie in the 8th inning.

Crawford would follow up the rookie’s display with an opposite shot of his own to lead off the 10th inning, launching his second career walk-off home run into the left field bleachers to hand his team the win.

The combination of home runs would see a Los Angeles kid in Brown hurt his hometown team, and a Bay Area native deal the finishing blow to his long-standing rival.

Lost in the fray of home runs and near no-hitters was Matt Cain’s impressive return to the mound. After a pair of injury marred seasons that saw the former ace hit the disabled list, the workhorse made a triumphant comeback in his first start of the season, surrendering just six hits over six innings of work while giving up just two runs.

The back of the rotation for both clubs saw strong outings from the returning ace in Cain and the newcomer Stripling. Both pitchers worked through the opposing lineups masterfully, while holding each team to just three runners in scoring position through the first five innings.

The duel was an encouraging sign for both clubs, as the former ace in Cain looked to rebound from injury-marred and ineffective seasons for the Giants, while Stripling looked to add some back-of-the-rotation punch for the Dodgers. But the Dodgers gained the advantage after five innings, as an RBI single from catcher A.J Ellis ended Cain’s scoreless streak after Joc Pederson came around to score following a leadoff double.

The Dodger’s young shortstop Corey Seager would pile on the damage with a two-out RBI single up the gut to make it a 2-0 deficit for Cain before he would escape the inning with a flyout to Justin Turner.

Meanwhile, Stripling continued his strong effort by mixing using an effective mix of offspeed pitches and fastball control to keep Giants runners off the base path, with just  two runners coming on consecutive walks through six innings.

The 26-year old looked to run into trouble heading into the 7th inning after issuing a leadoff walk to Hunter Pence, only to fall behind to Brandon Belt 0-3. But the Texas native rebounded by inducing a double-play ball from Belt, which was followed by a weak grounder from Matt Duffy to keep the no-hitter in tact.

Stripling looked to continue his quest to become the first rookie to throw a no-hitter in over a century during his debut, but after issuing a one-out walk to Angel Pagan, new Dodgers manager showed his short leash by yanking the youngster after an impressive debut.

The questionable move by manager Dave Roberts would come back to haunt the Dodgers, as Brown-who got his first start of the young season- would launch a two run home run off of RP Chris Hatcher to tie the game in the bottom of the 8th just moments after Stripling’s departure.

The Giants would work another runner into scoring position, before Hatcher would end the threat. But not before Brown’s longball would breathe new life into the ballgame.

Just as they had done the day before, the Giants would complete their comeback with a dagger of a homerun, as Crawford would connect with a 1-0 pitch from reliever Joe Blanton to secure the second straight win for the Giants against their NL West rivals.

The Giants look to make it three straight over the Dodgers tomorrow, as aces Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw square off in an afternoon start.