ST. LOUIS — Hunter Strickland has solved his home-run problems this season, but last October’s issue bit him in a big spot Wednesday.
Yadier Molina smoked a Strickland curveball into the left-field seats in the eighth inning, giving the Cardinals a 4-3 win. The homer was just the second all season against Strickland.
The Giants dropped two of three to the league’s best team and now go to Pittsburgh for four games against the second-best team.
Matt Cain’s first three innings were filled with rockets, but he escaped with just two runs on the scoreboard. Juan Perez helped in a big way, climbing the wall in center two batters into the game to rob Stephen Piscotty of a solo homer. The Cardinals scored when Molina followed Jhonny Peralta’s double with a single, but Molina was thrown out on the bases for the third out of the inning.
[RELATED: Watch Perez rob Piscotty of a home run]
The hard contact continued in the second, but Cain stranded two. Piscotty got his revenge with a solo homer to left with one down in the third, but Cain finally settled in. He retired 11 of the next 13 and got the Giants through six.
Cain also got them on the scoreboard, hitting a sac fly to left with the bases loaded in the fifth. Brandon Crawford drove in the tying run in the sixth and Kelby Tomlinson’s single to right brought Juan Perez racing home as the go-ahead run in the seventh.
A couple of slow rollers got the Cardinals the tying run in the seventh. Tommy Pham’s single started the tying rally and Brandon Moss reached on a weak grounder that stopped in no man’s land near the mound. After a sac bunt, Matt Carpenter hit a soft grounder to second. Tomlinson threw home but Pham arrived at the same time and the ball was knocked out of Andrew Susac’s glove.
Starting pitching report: Cain’s final line: 6 innings, 6 hits, 2 earned, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts. It was just the third time in nine starts that he allowed fewer than four runs.
Bullpen report: Strickland entered with runners on the corners and one out in the seventh and went 97, 98, 97, 98, 99 to strike out Piscotty. He stuck with all fastballs while getting Peralta to fly out to right. And then in the eighth …
At the plate: Tomlinson had two more hits in his first start atop the lineup. Who needs Chase Utley?
In the field: Perez may have made the play of the year for the Giants. Piscotty’s shot looked gone off the bat, but Perez ran a perfect route to the wall in right-center, jumped and planted his left knee into the wall, and made a basket catch inches in front of the shrubs. He couldn’t hide a smile as he threw the ball back to the infield.
Attendance: The Cards announced a crowd of 40,278 human beings. One of them lost a souvenir to Perez’s glove.
Up next: The Giants return to Pittsburgh, home of the first Madison Bumgarner beer pour. They’ll face Charlie Morton (7-4, 4.36), Jeff Locke (6-7, 4.31), Gerrit Cole (14-7, 2.61) and Francisco Liriano (8-6, 3.35).