Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 6, Giants 5

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 6, Giants 5

BOX SCORE
SAN FRANCISCO When the Giants stepped off the plane in the predawn, mid-Atlantic gloaming four days ago, they were a first-place team within a whisper of the best record in the National League.And if they could count on one thing, it was their ability to hold a big lead. They were 74-1 over the last two seasons whenever they gained an advantage of three runs or more.But the Washington Nationals exercised veto power. The Nats stamped themselves as the class of the Senior Circuit, roaring back from a three-run deficit for the second consecutive night. They staged a two-run rally against closer Santiago Casilla in the ninth to sweep the Giants with a 6-5 victory at Nationals Park.The Giants had a chance to send the game to extra innings when second baseman Ryan Theriot fielded a bases-loaded grounder from Adam LaRoche. But shortstop Brandon Crawford bounced the throw and Brandon Belt wasnt able to scoop it as the winning run scored.While blowing a 5-1 lead, the Giants were swept in a three-game series for the second time this season. They blew a 3-0 lead a night earlier.Starting pitching reportAlthough it probably wasnt at the forefront of his mind, Matt Cain took the mound with an opportunity to firm up his credentials to be named the NLs starting pitcher in the All-Star Game.He certainly beefed up his case in the first six innings while holding the Nationals to one run, which scored on a double-play grounder.But Cain was taxed in the sixth when he had a spirited, 10-pitch battle with talented 19-year-old Bryce Harper. The young center fielder kept flicking his bat at two-strike pitches before he finally grounded out on a two-seamer that Cain left over the heart of the plate.Impressively, Cain was able to generate power through the heat and humidity to throw an explosive, 93 mph fastball past Michael Morse to end the sixth.But perhaps he wore battle fatigue in the seventh, when Ian Desmond hammered an opposite-way home run and Danny Espinosa followed with another shot. Cain gave up a deep out to Jesus Flores at the warning track for the second out, ending his night.His line: 6 23 innings, six hits, three runs (all earned), one walk, four strikeouts, two homers allowed, 103 pitches, 62 for strikes.And he departed in line for his 10th victory. Cain wouldve joined Madison Bumgarner as the first pair of 10-win teammates in the NL this season. The Giants havent had two 10-game winners at the break since Cain and Tim Lincecum in 2009.Bullpen reportThe Giants havent played many torturous games in the late innings, but this one qualified.Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt replaced Cain with the bases empty and a 5-3 lead, but pinch hitter Mark DeRosa (remember him?) roped a double and Steve Lombardozzi hit a liner to the mound that Affeldt deflected for a single. Harper followed with a tremendous at-bat, patiently taking two tantalizing sliders to get ahead and then fisting a double that barely escaped left fielder Melky Cabreras running attempt. Harper hustled for a double as DeRosa scored to make it a one-run game.Sergio Romo pulled the escape hatch, getting a lineout from Ryan Zimmerman to strand two runners in scoring position.Romo needed to escape again in the eighth after Desmond blooped a two-out single and Espinosa was hit by a pitch. Flores followed with a fly ball to left field, and Cabrera practically waved his arm out of his socket to make sure Angel Pagan would yield to him as he made the catch.Casilla couldnt get the same breaks in the ninth. Tyler Moore led off with a pinch double and Casilla hurt himself when he bobbled a sacrifice bunt for an error that put runners at the corners. Harper followed with a hard-hit single through the left side that tied the game.An intentional walk loaded the bases and the Giants momentarily survived when Theriot fielded Michael Morses grounder and threw to the plate. Catcher Buster Posey barely kept his right foot on the plate to record the forceout.But the Giants came up short while trying to make one more defensive play.At the plateThe Giants created plenty of action against left-hander Ross Detwiler, just as manager Bruce Bochy envisioned when he loaded his lineup with right-handed bats. Detwiler entered the game having held lefty hitters to a .113 average.Justin Christian got a rare start at leadoff and made the most of it, tying his career high with three hits. Angel Pagan also had three hits just his second multiple-hit performance in his last 21 starts. And Melky Cabrera improved to 40-for-92 against left-handed pitchers (thats a .425 average) after going 2-for-3 with a run-scoring double and an RBI groundout against Detwiler.The Giants rapped out 11 hits in five innings against Washingtons starting pitcher. But they couldnt land anything stronger than jabs, and it was just a 3-1 game when the Nationals turned it over to their strong bullpen.The two most egregiously wasteful moments: A) Loading the bases with one out but failing to score in the first inning; B) Stranding Pagan after his RBI triple with no outs in the seventh.In fieldLaRoche essentially said, We dont need no stinking spray charts when he put down a perfect bunt to beat an exaggerated infield shift in the fourth inning. When LaRoche batted again to lead off the seventh, the Giants stationed their infielders in more traditional spots.The Nats had an outside chance at a triple play when Joaquin Arias grounded sharply to third base with runners at first and second in the fifth inning. But Ryan Zimmerman slipped a bit and bounced his throw to second base, resulting in the odd 5-4 fielders choicedouble play.AttendanceThe Nationals announced 29,819 paid. Any fans who wagered on Teddy Roosevelt in the presidents race deserved to be parted from their money.Up nextThe Giants finish the unofficial first half with a three-game series at Pittsburgh. Its actually the fourth consecutive series in which theyll face a first-place club; the Reds led the NL Central when they played at AT&T Park last weekend, but the Pirates occupy the top spot now. Itll be left-hander Barry Zito (6-6, 3.84) against left-hander Erik Bedard (4-9, 4.57) on Friday night. Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum have the following two assignments, when theyll face right-handers James McDonald and A.J. Burnett, respectively.

After another loss, Bochy challenges staff to 'tighten it up here'

After another loss, Bochy challenges staff to 'tighten it up here'

DENVER — For the second straight start, Matt Moore watched an outfielder chase down a rocket, slam into the wall, and immediately leave the game with a hurt shoulder. 

“You’ve got to feel a little responsible,” he said Saturday night, shaking his head. 

That’s not entirely fair. The Jarrett Parker and Denard Span injuries have been flukes, but there is a different kind of responsibility for the starting staff. Bobby Evans built this team on the starting five, and through three weeks, the group has been a letdown. 

Madison Bumgarner was hurt during an off-field incident. Johnny Cueto has an uncharacteristic 5.25 ERA and 1.38 WHIP through four starts. Moore gave up six runs in four innings Saturday, raising his own ERA to 5.87. On the other side, a rookie — Antonio Senzatela — held the Giants to four hits, leading the Rockies to a 12-3 win.

“He just made mistakes. You saw them,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Moore. “They caught too much of the plate and they were up and they took advantage of them. This can be a tough park but they pitched well tonight with a young kid. You’ve got to make your pitches. Keep concentrating and don’t give in. That’s the way it works and we’re not doing a very good job of that.

“Obviously our staff, we’re a much better staff than what’s happened. We’ve got to tighten it up here and wake up. We’re not a team that goes out and pounds it with you. We’ve got to pitch.”

The starting staff, even without Bumgarner, is more important than it first seemed. That's because the rest of the Giants are dropping, too. Span went out in the third when he slammed into the wall while making a catch, and while the initial read is positive, he was going for X-rays Saturday night. At the very least, a right shoulder sprain will keep him out a couple of days. 

That means Bochy, 18 games in, is dealing with one of his Bomb Squad situations. Buster Posey will play first on Sunday after a couple of long days in the squat, and it’s possible Brandon Belt will get a day in left. Gorkys Hernandez, hitting just .088, is the man in center while Span is out. Hunter Pence (knee bruise) is expected to return to right field Sunday, but the outfield is hanging by a string. The Giants have even talked about putting Eduardo Nuñez in left, and on Saturday he played several innings in right because of the Span injury. 

Bochy challenged his starters, but the regulars behind them will need to be better, too. The bats didn’t get going until the eighth inning at Coors Field, and even then, a rally was cut short and the Giants promptly gave up six more runs. Nuñez was late getting over on a pop-up that clanked off Joe Panik’s glove and extended the inning. 

“You’re going to deal with that,” Bochy said. “He’s going to feel discombobulated.”

Bochy had just one positive to point to, and he lit up when asked about Chris Stratton, who threw three hitless innings to keep the Giants within shouting distance. 

“Boy, that kid did a nice job," he said. 

Stratton isn’t far down the depth chart if there are further injuries in the rotation, and with a fastball that touched 95, he looked better than he has in years. The Giants hope they don’t need to test him. They’re banged-up, but at the moment, they still have four of their projected starting pitcher, along with Ty Blach. Without Bumgarner, the group will have to be better, and Bochy let them know it Saturday. 

Instant Replay: Rockies crush Moore, Giants lose Span in third straight loss

Instant Replay: Rockies crush Moore, Giants lose Span in third straight loss

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Near the end of last season’s collapse, the Giants spent a couple of days sitting eight games out of first place. Less than three weeks into this season, they’re already six out, and there are no signs that this is going to get better anytime soon.

The Giants managed just four hits against rookie Antonio Senzatela and went on to lose 12-3 at Coors Field. They also lost another starter to injury. 

A week to the day after Jarrett Parker broke his clavicle, Denard Span was removed after a similar collision with an outfield wall. Span has a mild right shoulder sprain and will go for X-rays. Throw in Hunter Pence’s left knee bruise and the Giants played most of this game without all three of their projected starting outfielders. 

To hang in a game like this one, the Giants needed a one-man show on the mound. Matt Moore wasn’t up to it. The lefty gave up six runs in four innings, including three homers. Mark Reynolds hit a deep blast in a three-run first and Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon went deep in a three-run fourth. 

The Giants threatened in the eighth, getting two runs back and sending the tying run to the plate. That rally seemed a lifetime away by the top of the ninth. The Rockies scored six runs off Neil Ramirez in their half of the eighth. 

Starting pitching report: No pitcher likes this place, but Moore has a real beef. In three career starts at Coors Field he has thrown just 11 2/3 innings and allowed 16 earned runs. 

Bullpen report: Chris Stratton, called up for the Madison Bumgarner roster spot, made his season debut in the fifth. He was outstanding. Stratton allowed just a walk in three innings and he topped out at 95 mph, a significant tick up from where he was last year. Stratton struck out three and broke Nolan Arenado’s bat on a grounder. 

At the plate: Joe Panik went deep in the sixth for his first homer of the year. 

In the field: Eduardo Nuñez made a great stop in the second and threw Stephen Cardullo out as he rolled over. An inning later, he was in right field. The Span injury forced Nuñez to right for just the seventh time in his career. He wasn't tested until the eighth, when he was late getting over to a deep pop-up that Panik dropped. 

Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 39,239 human beings. They’re excited about this team, and for good reason. 

Up next: Save them, Jeff.