AT&T PARK — The San Francisco Giants could have gone to bed on Wednesday night two games clear of the St. Louis Cardinals with just four games to go.
Instead, they provided nary a run of support for Jeff Samardzija, who delivered one of his most dominant performances as a Giant, ringing up 11 strikeouts while pitching seven-plus innings of two-run ball.
“This is the time of the year, man,” Samardzija said. “It feels great to be out there pitching when the weather turns a little bit and the [regular] season comes to an end. I always love being able to see the finish line. It allows he to go a little harder.”
The 2-0 loss drops the Giants 1.5 games back of the New York Mets and leaves the team only a game up on the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot.
The first run against Samardzija came in the top of the fourth courtesy of Nolan Arenado. The Giants’ nemesis lined a broken bat single into center field to score Carlos Gonzalez.
The second run came in the seventh inning off the bat of Gerardo Parra — the last hitter Samardzija faced. Parra whipped a RBI single into right field that got past Brandon Belt so quickly that the first baseman didn’t even have a chance to dive.
A night after tallying 19 hits, the Giants managed three singles against Tyler Chatwood in his eight innings of scoreless work.
“[It’s like] two different teams,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Chatwood’s been tough on us and he was good tonight. We just couldn’t figure him out. We had a runner on second base one time through eight innings and that’s not going to work.”
Chatwood retired 11 Giants in a row before walking Belt to lead off the seventh. The Rockies right-hander ended his night with nine strikeouts and now leads baseball with a 1.69 ERA on the road.
The Giants best chance to score came in their final at bat when Kelby Tomlinson, who was pinch-hitting for Conor Gillaspie, lined a leadoff double into the left-center gap.
“The ninth inning they were fighting,” Bochy said. “We had the right guys up there. It just didn’t happen.”
After Gorkys Hernandez and Denard Span both struck out, Tomlinson advanced to third on an infield hit by Belt. With runners on the corners and two out, Buster Posey grounded out to Arenado at third to end the game.
With the loss, the Giants are now 0-62 when trailing after the eighth — a stat that left Bochy surprised.
“I am a little bit,” Bochy said. “That’s kind of been our thing — coming back in the ninth and finding ways to win games in the ninth and it hasn’t happened in awhile.”
The lack of support for Samardzija, who eclipsed the 200-inning plateau for the fourth year in a row, was nothing new. Since the All-Star break, the Giants have provided the right-hander with two runs or fewer in 10 of his 14 outings.
In his last 10 starts, Samardzija has recorded a 2.42 ERA.
“Wow. He’s really been throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “You look at his body of work through August and September, he’s throwing the ball as well as anybody.”
Samardzija isn’t promised another start, but said he’s already prepping for a potential tie-breaker game on Monday or a weekend appearance out of the pen.
“I would love to be available [in relief],” Samardzija said. “And I will be available if they feel the need.”
— Bochy provided an explanation on letting Samardzija hit for himself in the bottom of the sixth.
“He is dangerous,” Bochy said. “He’s gotten some extra-base hits for us, so I went ahead and let him hit the way he was throwing the ball. He was dominating. Obviously by the strikeouts you could tell that.”
— Time is running out for Eduardo Núñez (right hamstring strain) to return to the lineup.
“I’ll try to play the last series [against the Los Angeles Dodgers],” Núñez said. “I’ll see how I feel. That’s the hope.”
— Bochy said Johnny Cueto (groin strain) is “good to go” for the finale against the Rockies, but wouldn’t say who starts on Saturday. The decision is down to Albert Suarez and Ty Blach. The numbers point to Blach, as the Dodgers own the worst OPS in baseball against lefties eduardo nunezJeff SamardzijaJohnny Cuetokarl buscheckMLBSan Francisco Giants