Sandoval Homers As Pitching And Defense Struggles in Giants’ 8-4 Loss

Sometimes when it rains, it pours. That may not be the best analogy – it was a beautiful Memorial Day afternoon at AT&T Park – but the Giants were plagued with pitching woes and untimely errors as they fell to the Chicago Cubs 8-4 on Monday afternoon.

Yusmeiro Petit, who started in place of an injured Matt Cain, lasted five innings and 65 pitches, and looked to be in command until a troublesome fifth inning.

“He was throwing very well until the last inning he pitched…I’m not sure if the pitches caught up with him. He started elevating the ball,” said manager Bruce Bochy.

David Huff replaced the starter and didn’t have his best stuff, allowing seven hits and four runs over 1.1 innings. Throwing errors from Huff and Brandon Crawford gave Chicago opportunities they took advantage of, and one error from Brandon Hicks was overturned.

One bright spot in the game came from Pablo Sandoval, who continued his hot streak to launch home run No. 7 into the arcade. The blast came on a 2-2 pitch, improving Sandoval’s numbers with two strikes. He came into today’s game batting 6-for-81 with two strikes against him, including 34 strikeouts. One of those six hits included a home run off a 0-2 pitch on Saturday night against the Minnesota Twins.

May has been quite the bounce back month for Sandoval, who has raised his average from .167 to .239 over the last three weeks. He’s knocked in at least one run over his last six games, and today’s home run marked his fifth in eight games.

Sandoval’s home run was only the third blast that Jeff Samardzija has allowed this season, and the Cubs pitcher had some offense of his own. His two-out double in the fifth inning continued a rally to give Chicago the lead and take Petit out of the game.

Before the fifth inning, Petit was able to face just about the minimum, with the exception of Nate Schierholtz’s first home run of the season. In that fifth, Schierholtz scored again, this time thanks to the double from Samardzija, who then scored after Emilio Bonifacio’s triple into left field.

The Giants couldn’t stop the bleeding in the sixth, as the bottom of the order for the Cubs tacked on two more runs off David Huff. Three straight singles from Wellington Castillo, Schierholtz and Darwin Barney gave Chicago a more commanding lead, and the Cubs followed that up with two more runs in the seventh to essentially put the game away.

“Poor defense goes hand in hand with the pitcher that’s struggling. I think that was part of having three straight innings where we couldn’t get three outs quickly,” said Bochy.

Michael Morse brought the Giants within four after taking advantage of Triples Alley and scoring on Brandon Crawford’s single, but Samardzija held San Francisco to those four runs over his seven innings of work. The Cubs’ starter struck out ten batters for the sixth time in his career, and allowed six hits while walking none in his first win of the year.

“He had great stuff. He had three really great pitches, throws hard,” said Bochy. “You get your work cut out for you. We thought it was probably going to be a close game, the way he’s been throwing.”

Samardzija began today with a 0-4 record over 10 starts, and his 1.46 ERA over that period marked the lowest ERA without a win in major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Today was his first win since August 24, 2013 in San Diego, in which he’s had a 2.99 ERA with 11 quality starts during his 16-game winless streak.

Tomorrow the Giants and Cubs will face off in Game 2 of this three-game series. Tim Hudson has been the most reliable of San Francisco’s rotation, logging quality starts in every outing except for one four-run appearance against Colorado, as well as the rainout at Coors Field last week. Hudson will take on Jake Arrieta, who allowed just one run on four hits over six innings in his first start of the season on Thursday.

First pitch at 7:15pm.