ST. LOUIS — Looking back on a 6-3 loss to the Cardinals, the Giants had a hard time finding one spot to drop the blame.
Jake Peavy was charged with four runs but he pitched well early against a very tough lineup and didn’t regret many pitches he made in the game-changing sixth. The next two relievers only faced one batter, and the guy who was on the mound when the go-ahead run scored, Cory Gearrin, pitched better than anyone else in orange and black on Sunday.
It was one of those nights when everything — including an error by the Gold Glove shortstop and a hard-luck liner by the first baseman — added up and was too much to overcome. The loss was the second straight for the Giants, and the second straight when they had the advantage entering the middle innings.
“What hurts is that both games we had leads,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We couldn’t hold onto them. That’s disappointing.”
The Giants were able to shake this one off, but in a bigger picture, there are cracks showing on a team that’s been the best in baseball over the past month and has a 3 1/2 game lead in the division. The lineup, without Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan, can get short in a hurry on nights when Buster Posey needs a break. The bullpen collectively has a feel that something is missing, in large part because Sergio Romo — a fixture in the final two innings — is down indefinitely.
Bochy didn’t have fresh hitters at the end of a 10-game trip, but he had a fresh bullpen. It wasn’t enough. When Peavy started spinning, the bullpen couldn’t clamp down. Hunter Strickland was supposed to face multiple batters but he drilled the only hitter he faced. Bochy turned to Javier Lopez for a matchup play but he couldn’t Matt Adams.
“It stinks that we couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding there,” Peavy said, shouldering much of the blame. “It’s a lot like yesterday. You’ve got to make a pitch and stop the bleeding, and I certainly didn’t. Things didn’t get any better when I left, unfortunately.”
A late run was put on Josh Osich’s line, which altered the way Bochy managed the ninth. He hoped to send Posey up as the tying run, but down three, Bochy sent Kelby Tomlinson to the plate with a runner on and no outs in the ninth. Bochy was hoping Tomlinson could reach base and at the very least his speed made him a low risk for a double play. Tomlinson hit into a double play.
About 20 minutes later, the Giants quietly packed to finally return home. Several relievers sat at their lockers with their heads hanging, but Bochy tried to put the trip in perspective. Despite losing the final two, the Giants went 5-5 on their longest road trip thus far.
“This game would have made it, I think, a pretty good trip,” Bochy said. “It was a tough trip, and losing Pence made it a tough trip. But overall it’s a .500 trip.”
The Giants are off Monday and then again on Thursday. In between they host the Red Sox.
“We need to go home and rest,” Peavy said. “Obviously you saw the load Buster carried on the trip. Coming back (to catch) for that day game in Atlanta was huge. The guys played hard. We’ve got our regular crew out there and some guys are banged up.”
The Giants will enjoy a full off day at home, their first of the season. They would have enjoyed it more if they had held on, though.
“Going .500 is not a bad thing on the road, but we were trying to get greedy,” Bochy said.
--- Bochy was looking for a hot hand in right and Parker provided a two-run shot. He said he knows he’s “got a pretty big pair of shoes to fill” with Pence out.
“I can only control so much,” Parker said. “If I just play hard and do my thing, it’ll take care of itself.”
Parker’s homer was a strange one. It appeared he thought it was going foul. Carlos Martinez was stunned it went over the wall.
“I kinda lost it for a sec,” Parker said. “But I picked it up again and started running.”
--- This was the series when it became abundantly clear that the best defensive catcher in the National League plays for one of these two teams and he’s not Yadier Molina. The guy is an all-timer defensively, but a half-dozen balls got back to the screen over three games. Yes, a chunk of that is the pitcher, but it’s clear Molina has lost a bit of his touch and mobility. It’s understandable, he’s 33. But I don’t believe he can keep Posey from a first Gold Glove any longer. We’ll see what the voters do.
--- If you ever want to rank National League cities, consider this: The Cardinals are taking the extremely rare step of flying to Cincinnati on Tuesday, the day of their next game. They don’t want to spend their off night in Cincinnati. Adjust your rankings accordingly.