PITTSBURGH — You don’t have much margin for error when you come into PNC Park. The Giants gave up two runs early and it turned out that was enough.
Charlie Morton was sharp through 6 2/3 and a good Pirates bullpen took it home, handing the Giants a 4-0 loss, their third in four games on this tough trip.
“We just couldn’t generate offense,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Their guy was really good.”
The Giants had their best shot in the seventh when they loaded the bases when Morton hit two batters and gave up a single. Gregor Blanco smashed a liner to right but it was right at Gregory Polanco, who was involved in one of two early plays, that left some in the Giants clubhouse shaking their heads.
With the Pirates up by a run going into the third, Polanco hit a grounder up the middle that looked like an out. Rookie Kelby Tomlinson took the first step to his left and that was enough; by the time Tomlinson recovered and headed to his right, Polanco was on his way to an infield single. He would come around to score on a double.
Starling Marte also scored on a double, and Peavy seemed a bit perturbed by the way Marte reached base. Peavy threw a pitch that was in, but not that far in, and Marte let it plunk his elbow pad. He scored two batters later on a double by Aramis Ramirez.
“He’s not getting out of the way,” Peavy said. “You throw it in there where you can hit him … he’s got that big elbow pad.”
The late Pirates runs were more traditional. Peavy threw a cutter down and in to Neil Walker and it caught too much of the plate. Walker crushed it out to right. In all, Peavy has given up nine earned in his last two starts, but Bochy isn’t concerned.
“I thought he settled down and threw the ball well,” Bochy said.
Peavy needed to be dominant to top Morton, who struck out eight and allowed just four hits.
“Give a lot of credit to their guy,” Peavy said. “He pitched his rear end off.”
--- One bright spot tonight: Yusmeiro Petit looked as sharp as he has all season. He was nailing the bottom of the zone with his fastball and fooling fools with his curveball. Petit struck out four in two innings, and they were no lightweights. He got Polanco, Andrew McCutchen, Ramirez and Jung Ho Kang to go down swinging.
--- Peavy on Marlon Byrd, who will join the team tomorrow: "I think Marlon is going to help. He's got some experience and has played in pennant races. We're excited. We think he's a guy who can certainly help and at a time that we're banged up."
A quick word on Stephen Johnson, the prospect traded away. He had 68 strikeouts and 29 walks in 58 innings and the Giants think he does have a chance to reach the Majors as a middle-innings reliever; he has a good fastball that goes about 94-95 but has command issues. This is one area the Giants can afford to trade from. They’re loaded with cost-effective relievers, with Hunter Strickland, George Kontos and Josh Osich already up here and Michael Broadway putting up video game numbers in Triple-A. I hear they’re pleased with Derek Law’s progress in his return from Tommy John surgery, and they believe they have a couple more impact arms getting ready down in San Jose.