MIAMI – The Giants lost on a wild pitch in the seventh inning. But the reasons for their 3-2 defeat at Marlins Park went a little deeper than that one Tim Lincecum breaking ball in the dirt.
As deep as the No. 6 spot in the Giants’ lineup, actually. With Brandon Belt unavailable and Brandon Crawford resting, the Giants’ thin bench made for a very shallow lineup.
The last four batters were 0 for 13 and the Giants couldn’t turn over the lineup fast enough to get more chances for Hunter Pence and Buster Posey, whose two-run double provided the sum of their offense against Brad Hand and Co.
Lincecum pitched well and posted his fifth consecutive quality start – the first time he’s done that since August, 2011 -- but paid for an 0-2 mistake in the first inning and bounced a pitch that scored Adeiny Hechavarria with the tie-breaking run in the seventh.
The Giants had to settle for taking two of three in South Florida.
Starting pitching report
Lincecum allowed more runs on one swing than he did over his previous four starts combined.
He entered with an 0.30 ERA over those starts, a winning streak that began with his June 25 no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. It was his first four-start win streak since April, 2010.
He did not make it five in a row for the first time in his career, though.
Lincecum didn’t have great control in the first inning, appearing to curse himself after walking light-hitting Jordany Valdespin and then really berating himself when he hung an 0-2 split-change to Casey McGehee.
It was McGehee’s NL-leading 119th hit of the season but amazingly, just his second home run.
The Marlins had Lincecum in the stretch most of the afternoon but third base became a bottleneck of baserunning mistakes.
It got comical in the second inning. Marcell Ozuna got thrown out at third after shortstop Joaquin Arias gloved a ground ball in the hole. Ozuna did have the presence of mind to drag out the rundown to allow Hechavarria enough time to get to second base. But then Hechavarria proceeded to get thrown out when Arias gloved Jeff Mathis’ ground ball in the hole.
In the third, Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-out double but got thrown out at third when he tried to advance on a pitch that momentarily skipped away from catcher Hector Sanchez.
The Marlins didn’t get another runner into scoring position until the sixth, when Lincecum was called for a balk following a single and a two-out walk. He managed to escape that threat. But he couldn’t strand Hechavarria after a leadoff double in the seventh. A sacrifice bunt moved Hechavarria to third – miraculously, the Giants had no play there – and then an inside pitch in the dirt to pinch hitter Reed Johnson bounded past Sanchez to score the tie-breaking run.
Lincecum still was able to post his fifth consecutive quality start (seven innings, five hits, three runs, seven strikeouts, two walks, 114 pitches) – something he hasn’t done since August, 2011.
Juan Gutierrez and Javier Lopez pitched the eighth.
At the plate
With Belt out and Crawford getting a break, the Giants lineup just wasn’t long enough.
[NOTES: No roster move yet for Brandon Belt]
The top five hitters posed a threat and combined to tie the game in the third inning, when Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro singled ahead of Posey’s two-run double.
Scutaro’s clean single to left field was his first hit of the season, and although he didn’t look good running down the line, he managed to score from first base on Posey’s double into the left field corner. Either Scutaro has no brake pads or he really enjoyed crossing the plate for the first time this season, since he flapped sprinter’s arms and didn’t slow down until he reached the first step of the dugout.
Arias made a wide throw for an error in the fourth inning. The official scorer originally gave the error to Posey at first base but then realized he would have to be legally blind to justify that and changed it after the inning.
Posey thought he beat out a grounder to end the eighth and the Giants challenged, but the call was not overturned. At least one angle appeared to show that Posey beat the throw.
The official scorer was Ron Jernick. We have no idea who the replay official was in New York, because MLB declines to be fully transparent on such matters.
The Marlins announced 25,221 paid, including several thousand youth baseball players and coaches who are probably going to get themselves thrown out at third base now because kids are impressionable that way.
The Giants begin a four-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. Ryan Vogelsong (5-7, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound against left-hander Cliff Lee (4-4, 3.18). First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. PDT. It’ll be Matt Cain (2-7, 4.18) against right-hander Roberto Hernandez (4-8, 4.22) on Tuesday, Madison Bumgarner (11-7, 3.38) against right-hander A.J. Burnett (6-9, 4.08) on Wednesday and Tim Hudson (8-6, 2.78) against left-hander Cole Hamels (4-5, 2.83) on Thursday. That’s assuming the Phillies don’t trade any or all of those pitchers first.