SAN FRANCISCO – So many times this season, a strong arm has shut down the Giants offense.
Rarely has it come from right field.
Gerardo Parra cut down rallies all night to stymie the Giants and Ryan Vogelsong had one very big blink in the fifth inning as the Arizona Diamondbacks dealt them a 4-2 loss Thursday night at AT&T Park.
Parra threw out Brandon Crawford trying to score from second base on Brandon Belt’s single in the third inning. He threw out Belt trying to stretch a single off the right field wall in the fifth. It wasn’t even a close play.
And by all rights, Parra should have racked up a third assist when he unleashed a strike to the plate on Hector Sanchez’s fly out, which followed Pablo Sandoval’s 400-foot, RBI triple. The ball arrived ahead of Sandoval, who crashed into catcher Miguel Montero. The ball stayed in Montero’s glove but he wasn’t able to apply a tag; it was clear on replays that he did tag Sandoval, though, as the Panda dashed back to try to touch the plate.
Umpire Tom Hallion missed that call and Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was ejected arguing it. But the Giants needed more runs than that. And that’s been the case so often this season, whether they’ve gotten gunned down from the mound or beneath the arcade.
Starting pitching report
Vogelsong took a shutout into the fifth inning and successfully navigated a troublesome second inning, when he issued an intentional walk to Parra to load the bases before striking out pitcher Trevor Cahill.
But there was no winning the battle in the fifth. Vogelsong’s command unraveled after Adam Eaton’s two-out double. There was a walk to Willie Bloomquist, which is never a good idea when Paul Goldschmidt is on deck. The NL MVP candidate stung the Giants yet again with a tying, two-run double. Then Martin Prado followed with an RBI double. Aaron Hill and Montero hit singles to drive Vogelsong from the game.
Vogelsong (3-5) just couldn’t get that third out. The result: His streak of three consecutive quality starts was snapped.
Jake Dunning replaced Vogelsong and saved his ERA by retiring Matt Davidson on a comebacker to strand both inherited runners. Dunning worked a scoreless sixth as well.
George Kontos returned to AT&T Park with a nice seventh inning that included a double-play grounder. And Heath Hembree made his AT&T Park debut by pitching around a walk in a scoreless eighth. He stayed in to face Wil Nieves in the ninth and set him down on a ground out, too.
Hembree has retired seven of the eight big league batters he’s faced thus far. And when Giants fans got to see him in person for the first time after a long minor league buildup, he hit 93 mph on a well-located fastball to freeze Aaron Hill.
At the plate
Sandoval’s triple in the fourth sounded louder and probably rocketed off his bat faster than any of the three home runs he hit a day earlier at San Diego’s Petco Park. The deep drive to right-center probably would’ve been out of Petco, too – and nearly any other ballpark.
The triple scored Hunter Pence, who drew a leadoff walk. And the Giants took a 2-0 lead on that controversial play at the plate.
But the offense stopped there. Belt hit into a double play in the seventh inning when Marco Scutaro misread a blooper that Goldschmidt caught a few steps on the outfield grass.
Johnny Monell made his major league debut as a pinch hitter and flied out to end it. It was still a huge moment for him as well as his father, Johnny Sr., who played 17 professional seasons – including stints in Mexico, Taiwan and Italy – and got as high as Triple-A.
Johnny Sr. was in attendance, having flown in from Atlantic City earlier in the day.
Angel Pagan received a spirited ovation in his first at-bat at AT&T Park since May 25. Fans don’t forget about inside-the-park, walk-off home runs, apparently.
Pagan injured his hamstring in that game and ended up having surgery that knocked him onto the disabled list for three months; he returned last weekend in Arizona.
The Giants announced 41,193 paid – a sellout, by their reckoning, to keep their streak alive. The BIS count (butt-in-seat) was quite a bit lower.
The Giants and Diamondbacks continue their four-game series at AT&T Park on Friday. Yusmeiro Petit (2-0, 3.12 ERA) hopes to continue his nice run while opposing left-hander Patrick Corbin (13-5, 2.96). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m..