Instant Replay: Giants' bats stay quiet as Cubs complete sweep

Kruk & Kuip: 'It has been very frustrating for this offense'

Instant Replay: Giants' bats stay quiet as Cubs complete sweep
July 28, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Travis Wood took Tim Lincecum deep in the fifth inning of the Cubs' sweep-clinching win over the Giants Sunday. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants closed their 10-game homestand to kick off the second half of the season with a thud on Sunday, losing their third consecutive one-run game to the Chicago Cubs, 2-1.

San Francisco fell to 12 games under .500 in suffering its second sweep at AT&T Park this year.

Tim Lincecum was dominant over seven innings, but Travis Wood got the better of him. The Cubs starter matched Lincecum with seven innings of four-hit ball, but it was his fifth-inning home run -- his third this season -- that set the two apart.

The Giants entered the second half of the season 6 1/2 games back in the division, and counted on a strong opening homestand to tee up a playoff run. But the defending champions lost seven of 10 on the shores of McCovey Cove and hit the road now distanced by 9 1/2 games (before the Dodgers finished their Sunday game against the Reds).

Starting pitcher report
Against the first seven batters in the Cubs lineup, Tim Lincecum was unhittable. But against opposing pitcher Travis Wood and catcher Welington Castillo -- the eight and nine hitters -- he made costly mistakes.

Wood and Castillo accounted for three of the four hits that Lincecum allowed -- and two solo home runs.

Lincecum was tested early and responded. Five Cubs hitters coaxed 32 first-inning pitches from the righty. A leadoff walk to David DeJesus and a double from Anthony Rizzo put two men in scoring position with one out and set up an early yet significant battle between Lincecum and former Giant Nate Schierholtz.

Lincecum exhausted his arsenal in a seven-pitch battle with Chicago's cleanup hitter, and after five straight off-speed offerings, Schierholtz swung through a high fastball and walked back to the dugout with the game still scoreless. Lincecum retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced.

The Giants starter boasted his signature power change-up that repeatedly ducked below the zone, and for the third time this season and 35th time in his career, he recorded double digit strikeouts.

Lincecum's final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 115 P, L.

Bullpen report
Jose Mijares was called on in relief and finished the eight without incident. But he led off the top of the ninth by hitting Nate Schierholtz with a big curveball that didn't make it back into the zone. Hard to imagine there was any intent behind hitting Saturday's hero, as it came in the ninth inning of a one-run game with the Giants desperately needing wins.

Mijares passed the baton to Sandy Rosario, who finished the ninth inning for his 11th scoreless appearance in his last 12 games.

For the first time this series, Sergio Romo didn't take the loss.

At the plate
The Giants finally capitalized with runners in scoring position, but Pablo Sandoval's fifth-inning double wasn't enough.

It's a bad sign when the pitcher collects a team's first two hits, but that's what Lincecum did Sunday against Wood. He flared a single just inside the left-field line to lead off the third inning and slapped a ground ball between first and second to lead off the fifth, marking the second multi-hit regular season game of Lincecum's career.

It paled in comparison to his greatest offensive output, though, when Lincecum turned in a three-hit, three-RBI game against the Dodgers in 2010.

The hits aren't coming as easily for battery-mate Buster Posey, who is in the worst slump of his career.

Posey entered the game with a .333 average against lefties, but looked lost against Travis Wood. He fanned in each of his first two plate appearances, doing so twice in a game for the sixth time this season and first since May 21.

His next at-bat was a microcosm of the Giants' recent struggles. It came with the bases loaded, no one out, and the AT&T Park crowd ready to explode. But the Giants' leading producer may have broken his bat when he swung at the first pitch and grounded into a unique 5-2 double play.

Posey is hitless in his last six games (0-for-18). Over that span, he has left 16 runners on base.

Brandon Belt, who struck out five times on July 8, was crowed with a Golden Sombrero when he couldn't pull the trigger and was wrung up on his fourth punchout in the ninth inning.

Down to their final out, Kensuke Tanaka pinch hit for the Giants, drew a walk, stole a base and reached third on a throwing error. But the tying run was stranded on third when Gregor Blanco popped out to end the game.

In the field
The Giants' pregame infield practice payed off as they played clean defense behind Tim Lincecum. The starter did his part to keep the team from committing an MLB-leading 77th error by recording seven off the first 12 outs via the strikeout.

Pablo Sandoval flashed the leather in the fifth inning, fully extending toward the line to snare Junior Lake's shot that would have been extra bases. He made a strong throw across his body from one knee to get the out.

Andres Torres corralled Luis Valbuena's low line drive to lead off the seventh inning, going into an awkward slide-and-roll to make the catch.

Attendance
The Giants' recent struggles haven't deterred the Orange and Black faithful, as the Giants announced their 219th consecutive regular season home sellout with a paid attendance of 41,608.

Up next
The Giants will be honored for last year's accomplishments at the White House on Monday before heading to Philadelphia for the first half of a six-game road trip that ends with the red-hot Rays. On Tuesday, Barry Zito (4-7, 4.92) will set the trip's tone against Phillies lefty John Lannan (2-4, 4.13), who has a 1.74 ERA in three career starts against the Giants.

The Giants are 18-31 (.367) away from AT&T Park this season. It's the sixth worst road winning percentage in the majors behind the Marlins, Astros, White Sox, Brewers and Padres.

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