SAN FRANCISCO – Marco Scutaro has relished the taste of rain. But now he’s in his worst drought as a Giant.
The 2012 NLCS MVP literally drank from the heavens in his signature pose of the pennant-clinching game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
But he was unable to come through in two key situations with two outs and runners on base. Neither could anyone else, as the Giants lost 3-1 to the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park Tuesday night.
The veteran second baseman is 0 for 9 in two games since being moved to the leadoff spot, but that’s just part of a larger high-pressure system that has settled over him for the better part of two months.
Scutaro is now batting .224 in 37 games since June 20. Of his 33 hits over that 37-game span, 31 have been singles. And he's emptying his pockets looking for that seemingly endless supply of two-out hits that he delivered for the Giants down the stretch and into the playoffs last season.
It wasn’t all Scutaro’s fault, to be certain. Buster Posey and Gregor Blanco each failed to score what would’ve been the tying run from third base with less than two outs.
Simply put, the Giants need to come up with more timely hits. That’s because they aren’t hitting home runs. Tuesday’s game was their 10th consecutive at AT&T Park without going deep. Posey hit the last one here, on July 20 against Arizona.
Starting pitching report
Matt Cain’s solid second half continued in a tough loss. He held the Brewers to two runs on just four baserunners (four hits and no walks) over seven innings while striking out six.
Cain (7-7) has a 2.00 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break.
He paid for a first-pitch slider in the second inning to Carlos Gomez, who nearly went one flap down as he sprinted around the bases, tapping his helmet as he reached each station and pointing to his dugout around third.
It wasn’t quite Prince Fielder’s bowling-pin celebration, but Cain usually takes notice of such things. In a more lopsided game, he might have responded with a little chin music. Instead, he struck out Gomez in their next encounter.
The Brewers made it 2-0 in the fourth after Norichika Aoki led off with a double. He advanced on a ground out, and with one away, the Giants called for a pitchout in the hopes of catching Aoki too far off the bag. But Posey’s throw was well wide of third baseman Pablo Sandoval, allowing Aoki to score on the error.
The run turned out to be earned, since Jonathan Lucroy followed with a fly out to left field that the official scorer judged to be deep enough to be a potential sacrifice fly.
Cain yielded nothing more through the seventh. Jean Segura started that inning with a double but Cain got two ground outs and a foul pop to escape. He could have gone further, with his pitch count at just 87 (with 61 strikes), but he was lifted for pinch hitter Joaquin Arias in the bottom of the inning.
Despite his solid second half, Cain has allowed 69 earned runs this season. He gave up 68 all of last season.
Jean Machi pitched a scoreless eighth inning to rebound from his walk-fest that cost the Giants at Tropicana Field last Saturday. Sandy Rosario gave up an unearned run in the ninth.
At the plate
The Brewers entered with the worst rotation ERA in the National League (4.64) and Wily Peralta, while blessed with an electric arm, had a 8.31 ERA over his previous two starts.
Peralta didn’t always know where the baseball was going Tuesday, bouncing a couple 52-foot pitches to Pablo Sandoval in the second inning. But he was effectively wild, and he retired the leadoff batter in each of his first six innings.
The Giants didn’t get a runner into scoring position until the fifth, when Roger Kieschnick hit a one-out single and Gregor Blanco drew a walk. Cain’s sacrifice advanced them, but Scutaro grounded out to third base to end the inning.
The Giants finally started an inning with a baserunner in the seventh when Brandon Belt doubled into the right field corner – snapping the team’s streak of 16 consecutive innings without an extra-base hit.
Kieschnick followed with a comebacker to the mound that Peralta couldn’t handle for an infield single that put runners at the corners.
But Blanco failed to score the runner from third base with one out. His grounder to third only advanced Kieschnick, and the Brewers allowed the run to come home on Arias’ ground out to second base off right-hander Brandon Kintzler. With the tying run at third, Scutaro flied out to right field.
The Giants threatened again in the eighth when Brandon Crawford kept the power stroke he found on the last road trip. He smoked a leadoff double and took third on Hunter Pence’s lineout to right field. But Crawford had to hold on Posey’s ground out to short, and Pablo Sandoval flied out.
Perhaps Posey was still smarting from a pitch in the seventh that hit him square in the ribs.
Arias struck out with a runner on second base to end it.
The Brewers added an unearned run in the ninth inning. Aoki singled and took third base when Arias, who replaced Scutaro, misplayed Segura’s grounder for an error. Aoki took third on the misplay and scored on Lucroy’s sacrifice fly.
The Giants announced 41,426 paid on Jewish Heritage Night. L’chaim!
The Giants and Brewers continue their four-game series at AT&T Park on Wednesday. Madison Bumgarner (11-6, 2.69 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Marco Estrada (4-4, 5.32). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PDT.