It was a scene that seemed almost preordained. In his much-anticipated debut, Cardinals phenom Oscar Taveras hit a long solo home run in the fifth inning to break a 0-0 tie. At almost the exact moment Taveras' homer reached the right field stands, the rain shower at Busch Stadium turned into a full-fledged downpour.
If the game had ended then and there, it would've signaled a big league arrival that brought to mind visions of "The Natural." The tarps were indeed rolled out, but that kicked off the first of two rain delays in a game the Cardinals would eventually win 2-0.
After winning four in a row and eight of their last nine, Bruce Bochy took Saturday's game as an opportunity to sit Buster Posey, Angel Pagan and Brandon Crawford. With Yusmeiro Petit on the mound in place of Matt Cain, this didn't appear to be a game the Giants had much of a chance of winning on paper.
Petit actually produced one of his best outings of the year, but Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha was slightly better. Wacha, a hard-throwing 22-year-old who's had five of his 12 starts interrupted by weather-related delays, struck out seven and allowed just three hits over six scoreless innings.
"He's got great stuff. We saw it in the postseason last year," Bruce Bochy said. "You have your work cut out against this rotation."
Starting pitching report
Petit doesn't have anything close to the stuff Wacha brings. But when he's hitting both sides of the plate and gets a friendly home plate umpire, Petit can eat some innings and put up some zeroes.
The Giants' emergency starter was perfect through the first three innings and remarkably efficient throughout. When the sun came out and the tarp came off the field after the game's first delay, Petit returned to the mound after a 47-minute layoff and pitched 1.2 scoreless innings.
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Petit allowed just two hits, a walk and one run on the Taveras homer over six. With his pitch count at just 74, he probably would've gone longer if the game wasn't delayed a second time.
This was a huge performance for Petit, who had allowed 17 ER in 14.1 innings in his previous three starts. With David Huff scuffling and no obvious options in the minors, the Giants need Petit to keep the team in games whenever one of their regular starters can't pitch.
"I was proud of (Petit). That's another spot start that he stepped in and did a nice job," said Bochy.
If Cain is healthy enough to pitch on June 6 (when he's eligible to come off the disabled list), the Giants would love to see their rotation whole once again. But considering Petit's effort today, the Giants probably won't be tempted to rush Cain back before he's 100%.
George Kontos allowed his first run of the season in the seventh after the game's second delay, which spanned 51 minutes. Jeremy Affeldt walked two in the eighth, but after a visit from Dave Righetti he got out of his self-made jam with a 1-6-3 double play.
At the plate
Michael Morse hit a double to lead off the second inning, but was stranded. That was all the Giants could muster against Wacha until the sixth inning, when the Giants tried to put together some more of their customary two-out magic.
After singles by Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, the Giants had the man they wanted at the plate in Morse. However, Wacha struck out the Giants slugger on three pitches.
The Giants were shut out for the fourth time this season, as four Cardinals pitchers combined to allow three hits and no walks while striking out 13. Sandoval extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
"We just got shut down," Bochy said. "We just couldn't do anything offensively."
In the field
If Ehire Adrianza could've handled Hector Sanchez's one-hop throw cleanly, the Giants would've caught Allen Craig stealing fairly easily to end the seventh inning on a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play. Instead, Jhonny Peralta drove in Craig with a double in the gap to give the Cardinals an insurance run.
The paid attendance of 44,426 was the highest of the series thus far, and they got plenty of exercise heading up the stairs in search of shelter each time the rains came.
The Giants will get one more chance to clinch a series victory tomorrow afternoon, as Tim Hudson (5-2, 1.92 ERA) starts against the Cardinals and right-hander Lance Lynn (6-2, 3.13). San Francisco gets an off day on Monday before heading to Cincinnati for a three-game set against the Reds. Tim Lincecum (4-3, 4.18) gets the ball Tuesday against right-hander Homer Bailey (5-3, 5.04), who no-hit the Giants last year but has struggled so far in 2014. Ryan Vogelsong (3-2, 3.45) and lefty Tony Cingrani (2-5, 4.01) are slated to pitch in Wednesday's game, while Madison Bumgarner (7-3, 2.85) and right-hander Mike Leake (3-4, 2.92) will square off in Thursday's series finale.