Giants drop series opener to Cubs, 6-4

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Giants drop series opener to Cubs, 6-4

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO Madison Bumgarner was the only fully rested player in a Giants uniform Friday afternoon.

But he looked just as sleep-deprived as everyone else in a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Bumgarner had terrific stuff early, but made a series of damaging, two-strike mistakes in a four-run third inning. His lack of focus was obvious when he failed to back up home plate, allowing another run to score.

Bumgarner put the Giants in a 5-0 hole, and although they came back from a four-run deficit to win the previous night at Houston, their legs were too heavy to reel off another. They arrived at their hotel after 3:30 a.m. Friday morning following a night game in Houston; Bumgarner was sawing logs well before that, since he traveled ahead of his teammates.

The Giants had to be satisfied to end August with an 18-11 record -- their most victories in a month since their memorable kick to the finish in September, 2010.

Starting pitching report

Bumgarner (14-9) could become the first Giants left-hander to win 15 games since Shawn Estes in 2000, but he remained stuck on 14 for the second consecutive start.

He gave up a run in the first inning when Joe Mather drew a leadoff walk, stole second base and scored on Alfonso Sorianos single.

It exposed an emerging weakness in Bumgarners game. Even though hes left-handed and has whats considered to be a good pickoff move, he has allowed a team-high 22 stolen bases (out of 30 attempts). Obviously, advance scouts are seeing an area to exploit.

Bumgarners biggest weakness was his lack of focus with two strikes. He had two outs and an 0-2 count in the third when Anthony Rizzo punched a single, then he had an 0-2 count on Soriano when he threw a cutterslider that ran right onto the barrel of the veterans bat.

It was Sorianos 24th home run of the season as he continued to take a scouring pad to Bumgarner. It didnt make it any easier that Soriano reportedly rejected a potential waiver trade to the Giants, citing the chilly weather at AT&T Park.

With two outs and the bases empty, Bumgarner still couldnt get his teammates into the dugout. Starlin Castro singled on yet another two-strike pitch, then Wellington Castillo hit a double to the wall in left field. Gregor Blanco nearly got swallowed whole by the ivy as he chased after it.

Then came the biggest sin of all. Castro scored easily as the throw bounded away from Buster Posey, and by the time the catcher realized he had nobody behind him, Castillo already had begun his sprint around third base. Poseys desperation toss skipped past Bumgarner as he broke toward the plate a Bad News Bears moment for a club that had played such solid fundamental baseball all through the month.

At least Bumgarner threw 60 of 85 pitches for strikes in four innings. That might have been a few strikes too many.
Bullpen report

Chicagoland native and Northwestern University alum George Kontos fulfilled a lifelong dream by pitching at Wrigley Field, and he nearly committed a balk by levitating a few inches above the mount.

Not really, no. But the fifth pitch he threw took flight, as Anthony Rizzo rattled a home run in the basket that fronts the bleachers. Umpires originally called it a triple, but fittingly on the first college football weekend of the season, the boys in blue went under the hood and quickly determined on replay that it was a home run.

Kontos didnt allow another run in his two innings.

At the plate

Did we mention the Giants were tired?

Even with a warm wind blowing out to Waveland Ave., the Giants barely registered a pulse against right-hander Chris Volstad, who entered 1-9 with a 6.28 ERA.

On Sunday, Volstad snapped a streak of 24 winless starts when he emerged the pitcher of record in a rain-shortened victory over the Colorado Rockies. Now you can use the words Volstad and winning streak in the same sentence.

Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence grounded into double plays to stall rallies in the early innings. Posey hit an RBI double after Ryan Theriot singled in the fourth and Sandovals sacrifice fly scored Angel Pagan in the sixth, but otherwise the Giants showed theyd make lousy long-haul truckers.

They never seem to lack for a second wind in the late innings, though. Posey, who was expected to rest Friday, hit an RBI single in the eighth to complete an impressive afternoon in which he reached in all four plate appearances. Pence brought home another run on a ground out to make it a 6-4 game.

But although the Giants chipped away, they lacked the dagger shot to complete the comeback.
In field

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval made a lunging stop and a strong throw to take a single away from Castro in the fifth. Right fielder Hunter Pence looked a but ungainly as he fought the wind but managed to make a nice play on Castillos fly ball in the second.

And file this one away for future reference: Bumgarner gave a bull-snorting glare in the direction of Josh Vitters after the Cubs catcher flipped his bat in disgust after lining out in the fourth. Bumgarner did not face Vitters again. Theres always next season for a rib tickler.
Attendance

The Cubs announced 32,476 paid, and there were plenty of ample-sized, yellow-shirted Iowa fans dotting the stands. The Hawkeyes open up with Northern Illinois at Soldier Field on Saturday. It might be their best shot at a victory against an Illinois-based team this season.

Up next

You expect day baseball at Wrigley Field, but the Giants will start especially bright and early on Saturday. Its a 10:05 a.m. PDT first pitch against the Chicago Cubs. Tim Lincecum (7-14, 5.30 ERA) will oppose right-hander Justin Germano (2-4, 5.09). Well see if the remnants of Hurricane Isaac disrupt proceedings. Its forecasted to be a wet weekend in the Windy City.

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Pittsburgh Pirates kept clearing the fences, and the San Francisco Giants were left arguing plate umpire Chris Conroy's tough strike zone.

Even Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle understood the beef.

Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer and had four RBIs, Gerrit Cole won for the fifth time in six starts, and the Pirates beat San Francisco 10-3 on Monday night.

"I think there was some frustration really all night," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who watched most of the game from his office after an ejection in the second. "I don't think he had a real good night, to be honest, as far as consistency, but that really had nothing to do with what happened tonight. We gave up three-run homers."

Jordy Mercer added a three-run shot of his own in the eighth to further back Cole (8-7), 5-1 in his last eight starts. That lone defeat came June 30 as San Francisco swept the Pirates at Pittsburgh from June 30-July 2 - the Giants' first in the series since 2009.

This time, Pittsburgh immediately jumped on San Francisco starter Matt Cain (3-9), who matched the longest losing streak of his career at eight games - also done from July 28, 2015-May 10, 2016.

Bochy was tossed by Conroy for arguing balls and strikes in support of Cain moments after McCutchen connected, the skipper's second time being tossed this year. San Francisco pitching coach Dave Righetti then got tossed in the ninth.

"It was a tough zone," Hurdle said. "They lost two people on their side thrown out of the game."

Cole allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, struck out four and walked four.

He improved to 4-1 in six career starts against San Francisco. The Pirates won their seventh straight game at AT&T Park and ninth in 10, including sweeps both last year and in 2015.

Buster Posey hit a pair of RBI singles in San Francisco's fourth loss in five games.

McCutchen hit his 18th homer as the Pirates cleared the fences in San Francisco for a sixth straight game. His RBI groundout in the first started things off for a Pittsburgh club that had lost back-to-back games on the heels of a season-best, six-game winning streak, including a 13-3 flop in the finale against the Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field.

Josh Bell and Starling Marte each doubled home a run and Josh Harrison added an RBI single.

"This offense is good, we've shown that," McCutchen said.

Cain matched his second-shortest outing of the year at four innings and is winless in his last 11 starts, the longest by a Giants pitcher since the right-hander went 15 outings without a victory during his previous eight-game skid.

CHEERS TO THE HOME RUN KING:
Former slugger Barry Bonds, who played for both teams, received a greeting on the scoreboard for his 53rd birthday but the career home run king wasn't in the stands.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco, who strained his left hamstring Friday at Colorado and landed on the 10-day disabled list, tested his leg with some straightaway running and was going to do some riding on the stationary bike with the hopes he can hit in the cage soon. Hurdle said he did witness Polanco scurry across a street to avoid being hit by a car, then acknowledged it wasn't that close a call. ... With an off day Thursday at San Diego, the starters will get an extra day of rest.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto played catch and said the trouble spots on three of his pitching fingers are greatly improved. He said they aren't true blisters. The plan is for him to play catch again Tuesday and perhaps throw off the mound Wednesday if all continues to go well. ... Closer Mark Melancon had the day off as he recovers from a second DL stint with a strained forearm. He will throw a bullpen session Tuesday, Bochy said, and face hitters this weekend in Los Angeles if ready.

UP NEXT:
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (6-3, 3.08 ERA) is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts since returning from the DL on June 12, just more than a month after surgery for testicular cancer. He seeks his first decision against the Giants in two starts.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 3.57) tries again for his first victory of 2017 in his third outing back from missing nearly three months following a dirt bike accident April 20 in Colorado.

Bruce Bochy ejected in second inning vs Pirates after arguing with umpire

Bruce Bochy ejected in second inning vs Pirates after arguing with umpire

Bruce Bochy's night didn't last very long.

The Giants manager was ejected in the top of the second inning Monday after arguing with the home plate umpire.

The argument came after a three-run homer by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Bochy appeared to be voicing frustrating with the strike zone.

Bochy came out to argue with Chris Conroy and the home plate umpire threw him out almost immediately.

McCutchen's home run put the Pirates up 6-0 in the second inning.