In an attempt to complete their fifth comeback victory in eight games, the Giants fell short on Tuesday night as the Diamondbacks won a game they had to win if they are to have any chance of catching San Francisco in the standings.
Jumping out to an early lead, the Giants drew first blood when Marco Scutaro hit a one out triple followed by a Pablo Sandoval sacrifice ground out to second base putting them up 1-0 after the first.
Ryan Vogelsong (12-7), making his 26th start of the year, would give the run right back in the top of the second surrendering an RBI single to the Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy (12-11) after giving up his second double in as many innings.
Vogelsong would give up five more runs over the next two innings before being pulled with one out in the fourth.
With the Giants down four runs and Kennedy on the mound for the Diamondbacks, prospects for the Giants looked bleak. Kennedy entered the game 5-0 with a 1.87 ERA in his last six starts against the Giants and was 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his last three starts at AT&T.
All that changed on Tuesday as the Giants mounted another comeback touching up Kennedy for five runs over five and two thirds, including a two run bomb off the bat of Brandon Belt which landed in McCovey Cove for the 62nd splash hit of all time.
After Brandon Crawford followed Belt’s blast with a double, a shot off the right field wall that missed going into the arcade by a few feet, Kennedy’s night was over.
The Giants would complete the comeback the following inning when Sandoval tied the game by shooting a ball through the left side of the infield knocking in Pagan who led off the inning with a stand up double.
The Diamondbacks bullpen matched zeros with the Giants relievers until they plated the final two runs in the top of the eleventh inning off of George Kontos (1-1) and Javier Lopez (3-0).
“Hard fought game,” Bruce Bochy said after the game, “the guys fought hard, we got down and the guys came back on a guy who’s been tough on us [we] couldn’t quite finish the deal.”
Bochy immediately brought up the lost opportunity in the eighth inning when the Giants put runners on first and third with nobody out but failed to score a run when pinch hitters Joaquin Arias struck out and Hector Sanchez bounced into an inning ending double play.
“We had a golden chance in the eighth inning where we couldn’t get a run in but you have to like the way they fought, even when we gave up two there [in the eleventh], we got the first two guys on and had some good hitters up there but they pitched out of it.”
For the most part, the Giants bullpen also pitched well, especially after Bochy was forced to go to them early again following another poor outing from a Giants starting pitcher.
Vogelsong’s short outing marked the third straight day a Giants starter didn’t make it past five innings, taxing the bullpen even further.
Bochy commented on the recent struggles from his starters after the game and on the bullpens effort to overcome the adversity.
“Hopefully we’ll get these starters on track here and get them a little bit deeper in the game but in the meanwhile it’s about picking each other up and the bullpen’s doing it for us and the bats.”
Vogelsong, who has been Mr Consistent all year, has really struggled to locate his fastball over the last few starts. It was only three weeks ago that Vogelsong led the National League with a 2.27 ERA but has seen that climb to 3.29 after surrendering 24 runs over his last five starts.
The Giants are hoping to buck the recent trend tomorrow night as they send Madison Bumgarner (14-9) to the mound for the rubber match of an important series before the Los Angeles Dodgers come to town.
With a Dodger loss to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night, the Giants maintained their four and a half game lead in the NL West standings. With 26 games remaining for the Giants, and only 25 for the Dodgers, every game is pivotal.
(Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained first-hand.)