AT&T PARK — The St. Louis Cardinals wanted no part of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey with the game tied, a man on second and one out in the seventh inning, and who could blame them? With the go-ahead run in scoring position and a base open, it didn’t make sense to pitch to a likely Hall of Famer.
By intentional walking Posey, Cardinals reliever John Brebbia had to face right fielder Andrew McCutchen. Brebbia threw a fastball down the middle, and the five-time All-Star made him pay with an RBI single to left field.
McCutchen’s hit was enough for San Francisco to claim a 3-2 victory in which it overcame several deflating moments to snap a four-game losing skid. The Giants had scored just five runs over their past four games, so they welcomed the breakthrough.
“It felt great, it was finally like a breath of fresh air,” starter Dereck Rodriguez said. “The past couple of games had been tough.”
Before McCutchen’s game-winner, though, Rodriguez endured two frustrating moments on the mound.
In the second inning, left fielder Alen Hanson let a bloop hit bounce past him down the line, enabling St. Louis shortstop Paul DeJong to score all the way from first. In the seventh, Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong drove a two-out changeup down in the zone for a triple. The ball took an awkward bounce off the right-field wall, again giving DeJong time to round the bases. His run tied the game 2-2 and broke Rodriguez’s streak of two starts allowing two runs or fewer.
“I thought it was a good pitch,” Rodriguez said. “He put a good swing on it and unfortunately the ball took a bad hop when it hit the wall, so yeah I was frustrated about that.”
Said manager Bruce Bochy: “He really had some tough luck. The two runs that scored were on doubles [sic] that … [normally] wouldn’t score.”
Another bad break came in the fourth, when second baseman Joe Panik exited the game with a strained left groin. He’s likely headed to the disabled list, though he’ll get an MRI on Saturday. The team is already without third baseman Evan Longoria, who broke his hand last month.
“We’ll miss Joe,” Bochy said. “He’s just a steady player. A good left-handed bat, steady at second, he’s just a solid player that knows how to play the game.”
Without Panik for most of the contest, the Giants scraped together enough momentum-swinging plays to win. Two of those came from third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who made a slick diving stop at third base and blasted a solo home run to left field.
Those are the kind of memorable moments that might extend his stint with the organization as he searches for consistency at the plate and in the field.
There was also plenty of excitement generated by McCutchen’s low line drive through the left side of the infield in the seventh, which gave the Giants the lead for good. It came a half inning after Rodriguez — who got the no decision despite allowing two runs in 6 2/3 frames — surrendered the triple to Wong.
“It was really important [to have a quick response], especially if you look at the last four games they’ve been tough games for us,” Bochy said. “This was a game we didn’t want to get away from us, especially after losing the lead late.”
Left-hander Will Smith made sure that go-ahead single held up, earning his third save this season. Bochy praised him after the game but stopped short of naming him the full-time closer.
After missing last season to Tommy John surgery, though, Smith said he’s just happy he’s able to pitch regardless of the inning. It helps, though, when that inning puts an end to a losing streak.Andrew McCutchenDereck RodriguezMLBPablo SandovalSan Francisco Giants