Giants fall flat at plate again in 3-2 loss to Cardinals

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants might want to search McCovey Cove, not for balls they hit there, but for their offense that may have drowned.

They’ve only scored 10 runs in their last six games, and two or fewer in five losses over that stretch. The result has been a dip ever so close to the .500 mark, as the Giants (46-45) wade into murky waters with the All-Star break approaching.

The latest display of offensive futility came Saturday at AT&T Park in a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals on a day when stellar pitching performances and a standout day at the plate from Brandon Belt went to waste.

Jeff Samardzija returned to the hill for the first time since May 29, when he left a game against the Rockies after only one inning due to shoulder tightness. The right-hander breezed through innings one and two, but allowed three runs over the next two frames while the Giants’ bats fell stagnant yet again. Samardzija only walked one over five innings, but he allowed seven hits and those three earned runs as the hosts fell behind, 3-0 after five innings.

Samardzija has now allowed multiple earned runs in eight of his nine starts this season, the only outlier his first appearance of the year when he tossed five scoreless innings against the Angels. That outing was also Samardzija’s only win of the season, as he fell to 1-5 after Saturday’s losing effort.

Despite Samardzija’s 1-4 record and 6.56 ERA entering Saturday, he bumped Chris Stratton out of the rotation and down to AAA after Stratton (8-6) allowed 28 hits and 15 earned runs without a win over his last three starts. “I don’t know about pressure,” manager Bruce Bochy said before the game when asked if there was any extra onus on Samardzija to deliver given the success of young starters Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez in the veteran’s absence.

Samardzija (81 pitches and 53 strikes) didn’t pitch too much worse than Rodriguez did Friday in a 3-2 win, but he needed much better Saturday if the often lifeless San Francisco offense stood a chance. A rare sign of life came in the sixth, when Belt roped a RBI double down the right-field line that scored Gorkys Hernandez to make it a 3-1 game. Belt shouldered the load again in the eighth, when his base knock to center drove in Alen Hanson to make it 3-2. But it was Belt, and only Belt, doing the heavy lifting for the Giants’ lineup Saturday.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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