AT&T PARK — For the first time in over three months the San Francisco Giants are not in first place in the National League West.
Miscues by the bullpen did in the Giants again — but this time it was by a guy who’s been a model of consistency for manager Bruce Bochy’s squad. Right-hander Derek Law gave up the go-ahead solo home run to Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang in the top of the eighth.
The 4-3 loss leaves the Giants 9-20 since the All-Star break, the worst record in Major League Baseball. This, after they finished the first half with the best record at 57-33.
Law hadn’t given up a run since June 30, a span of 19 appearances. He nearly got out of the inning unscathed after Buster Posey caught Andrew McCutchen stealing second with one out. But one pitch later, Law shook off the slider sign from Posey and instead went with the fastball.
“I tried to get it off the plate and just yanked it,” Law said after the game. “I just needed to make one more pitch and couldn’t get the job done.”
With the Dodgers beating the Phillies earlier in the night, Tuesday’s loss leaves the Giants a half-game behind their rivals.
After appearing to be sellers at the trade deadline, the Pirates are now fighting for a wildcard berth. Since June 24, Pittsburgh has the second-best record in the National League at 27-17, while the Giants are 19-26 in the same span.
Giants starter Jeff Samardzija’s second consecutive quality start wasn’t quite enough for San Francisco, which can’t find the timely hits that were a regular occurrence in the first half of the season. The Shark gave up three runs on six hits in six innings of work, settling in nicely after allowing a run apiece in each of the first two innings.
“I’m getting consistent results with [those] pitches,” Samardzija said. “You can’t really look at it any other way. Good or bad, you got to look towards tomorrow. The only alternative is to think about the past, and that’s not positive.”
Buster Posey, after being out of the starting lineup the last two games with lower back tightness, drove in two runs in the first inning with a double into the right-centerfield gap.
Looking far from 100 percent, Posey grimaced on nearly every swing he took and was clearly uncomfortable running the bases in the sixth, when he singled and eventually scored the then game-tying run on a Hunter Pence groundout.
“He threw a guy out and swung the bat well. I think he’s fine,” assessed Bruce Bochy after the loss.
“We’ve been through these funks, this has been a long one,” Bochy said. “We created this, now it’s up to us to find a way to get on a roll.”
Their next opportunity to find a roll comes with the conclusion of this three-game series today in a 12:45 p.m. matinee. Matt Cain will get the call against Pittsburgh’s recently acquired Ivan Nova.