NEW YORK – It developed suddenly.
No team in the National League averages fewer runs at home than the New York Mets. But they were just dangerous enough to keep the Giants from latching a tidy victory for Matt Cain.
Josh Satin hit a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single off Sergio Romo to complete a four-run ninth inning as the Giants lost 5-4 at Citi Field Wednesday night.
It was the Giants’ 82nd loss of the season – guaranteeing them their first losing season since 2008.
Santiago Casilla walked two and Romo allowed three hits as the Giants lost for just the third time in 59 games when leading after eight innings.
The rally deprived Cain of a victory after he held the Mets to just an unearned run in 7 2/3 innings.
Starting pitching report
Remember that fusillade of home runs against Cain in April and May? Remember how he wasn’t the same pitcher, how he broke down where he had always held fast, how he snapped loose even when the Giants were still running a fairly tight ship?
Well, the season went off the road. But Cain is back on firm pitch – with plenty of tire pressure.
The right-hander continued his strong second half with one of his best outings of the season. He has a 2.34 ERA since the break.
Back on May 16, Cain had allowed a major league-most 13 home runs over his first nine starts. But he fixed the issue, his two-seamer started running back onto the black and he’s allowed just eight home runs over his last 20 starts.
With possibly two more starts remaining, Cain has allowed the same number of home runs (21) as he did last season.
His other rate stats are within their usual ranges, too. He is striking out batters at exactly the same rate and opponents are hitting just a couple points higher against him.
It’s not like shutting down the Mets at Citi Field is an impossible task. Entering the game, the Mets were averaging the fewest runs at home in the National League. (The Giants were next to last.)
Cain looked as comfortable as a night at Third and King. The Mets only put one runner in scoring position over the first seven innings, and they needed an error to score their only run against him. Matt den Dekker hit a pinch single to start the eighth, he stole second base, took third on catcher Buster Posey’s throwing error and scored on Satin’s sacrifice fly.
That ended Cain’s night, but Javier Lopez retired the next hitter to ensure the run would stay unearned. Cain threw 71 of 109 pitches for strikes.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy turned to Casilla in the ninth after Romo converted a stressful save a night earlier.
But the stress began anew. Casilla was wild and walked two of his three batters. Romo entered and gave up a pinch double to Zach Lutz that put the tying runs in scoring position. Juan Centeno, who was making his major league debut, followed with a soft single to the left side that would’ve tied the game if shortstop Brandon Crawford hadn’t managed to get a glove on it.
Romo pitched carefully to den Dekker and just missed on a 2-2 pitch before issuing a walk to load the bases. Pinch hitter Omar Quintanilla worked a tough at-bat but his fly out to right field was too shallow for the Mets to gamble sending Lutz from third.
Then Satin fell behind quickly but took a 1-2 slider and then rifled a fastball down the left field line as the Mets stormed the field.
At the plate
The Giants struck out 14 times and Aaron Harang rang up eight of them in his five innings. In fact, every starting player except Nick Noonan struck out at least once.
But they made their contact count, and the Mets helped with a couple of misplays in the field. Angel Pagan singled ahead of Gregor Blanco’s no-doubt home run in the third inning. The rally nearly blossomed into something much bigger, but Pablo Sandoval grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.
The Giants added a run in the fourth after Crawford hit a grounder to third base and reached on Satin’s fielding error. Crawford advanced when Cain pulled back a bunt attempt and slashed a rare single to right field. The inning should have been over when Blanco lofted a two-out fly ball, but right fielder Andrew Brown (no relation to Brant Brown) let it clank off his glove for an especially bad error that allowed Crawford to score.
The Giants made it 4-0 in the fifth after Posey was hit by a pitch, stole second base on an apparent busted hit-and-run. Crawford singled him the rest of the way home, then got caught in a rather entertaining rundown (that went 7-2-4-3-6-4, in case you’re keeping a book) to end the inning.
Hunter Pence struck out three times to end his streak of games with an RBI at seven.
Best play of the game happened right in front of the press box, where a Mets fan gloated after wrestling a foul ball away from a Giants fan. But the Giants fan was a winner, too. He engaged in the entire escapade while managing to keep his funnel cake from sliding off its plate. The Chronicle’s Henry Schulman was so impressed that he ventured into the stands during the game to congratulate the Giants fan.
The Mets announced 23,698 paid and actual attendance was half that. Has nobody informed the five boroughs there is a Shake Shack here?
The Giants and Mets finish their three-game series at Citi Field on Thursday. Madison Bumgarner (12-9, 2.83 ERA) takes the mound against Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese (7-7, 3.88). First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. PDT.
NEW YORK – It developed suddenly.