PITTSBURGH — Mike Leake spent six innings doing what he usually does against the Pittsburgh Pirates, then Giants manager Bruce Bochy decided enough was enough.
With the go-ahead run at third and one out in the top of the seventh of a tie game, Bochy pulled his starter for a pinch-hitter, even though Leake had given up all of one hit and needed just 77 pitches to get 18 outs.
The move failed to give the Giants the lead — Kelby Tomlinson lined out and Nori Aoki grounded out to end the threat. A little while later Saturday, San Francisco trudged off after Starling Marte’s solo home run against George Kontos with two outs in the ninth gave the Pirates a 3-2 win.
“We did a lot of good things,” Bochy said. “Ran the bases well, stole bases. It comes down to getting the timely hit, and that’s the difference. We couldn’t get it.”
And the Pirates did. Jung Ho Kang hit a pair of homers for the Pirates and Marte atoned for an earlier baserunning gaffe when he sent a fastball from Kontos (0-2) into the sun-splashed seats in left field for the second walkoff hit of his career.
“I felt I was doing a good job of delivering my pitches, hitting my spots,” Kontos said. “But one pitch I didn’t executive as well I’d like and I think he was sitting on it and took advantage of it.”
Ehire Adrianza had an RBI single for the Giants and Matt Duffy tied it in the eighth after scoring on a wild pitch but the Giants fell to 2-4 on a road trip through St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Three of the losses have come by one run.
Leake came in 8-3 in 23 career starts against Pittsburgh, including a 2-0 mark this year while playing for Cincinnati. He showed no ill effects of the left hamstring strain that sent him to the disabled list on Aug. 3. Bochy put the newly acquired right-hander through the paces in pregame, anyway, having Leake cover first and run the bases just to make sure.
Leake’s mobility was never a problem, perhaps because the Pirates rarely made him take a step off the mound. He faced the minimum through the first four innings before Kang sent a fastball into the seats in center to tie the game at 1.
It was the only bobble by Leake, who cruised through sixth before getting lifted. Leake admitted he probably could have gone a little
longer but understood Bochy’s decision.
“It was just kind of a feel,” Leake said. “We kind of had a situation where you’re trying to get the runner in from third base, and my arm wasn’t used to pitching that long after taking a couple of weeks off.”
The move didn’t work out.
Hunter Strickland came on for Leake and appeared to get out of a jam when Marte was caught stealing at third. Kang hit the next pitch 424 feet into the bullpen to put the Pirates up 2-1.
The Giants are is optimistic Angel Pagan is close to a return from right knee tendinitis that landed him on the disabled list on Aug. 10. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the knee with promising results.