SAN FRANCISCO -– The Giants rotation couldn’t carry over the momentum that Madison Bumgarner started with in a brilliant outing at Arizona last Sunday.
Turns out Bumgarner couldn’t make it last from a personal standpoint, either.
The Cincinnati Reds henpecked Bumgarner for six hits in a five-run fifth inning, and the Giants were unable to respond loudly enough against NL ERA leader Johnny Cueto as their struggles continued with a 6-2 loss at AT&T Park Friday night.
Hey, at least the Dodgers lost. The Giants’ lead remained two games in the NL West.
But for how much longer? The Giants have lost 13 times in 17 games, and it almost feels like a double defeat when they can’t win behind their opening-day ace. They were outhit 12-3 and it’s a minor miracle, really, that they got close enough to put the tying run in the on-deck circle in the ninth.
Starting pitching report
Bumgarner (9-5) was coming off a two-hit, eight-inning start at Chase Field, but the Reds matched that hit tally just two batters into the game. Bumgarner picked off both Billy Hamilton and Todd Frazier, becoming the first Giants pitcher to nab two runners in one inning since Bud Black in 1992.
But that strategy only worked for so long. He ended up allowing runs on nine hits and a walk in six innings.
It all spun out of control in the fifth inning. Devin Mesoraco hit a leadoff double, Chris Heisey hit a one-out single to put runners at the corners and once again, a No. 8 batter did damage. One night after Zack Cozart’s double sent Ryan Vogelsong to a loss, the Reds’ .229-hitting shortstop singled to drive in the Reds’ first run.
Hamilton followed by taking a hack at a slurve and sending a bloop that landed in the turf in shallow right field for a damaging two-run single. Frazier and Jay Bruce hit RBI singles as the Reds sent 10 men to the plate before Bumgarner finally escaped.
Bumgarner ended the day with a 2.90 ERA, which might put him back on the bubble for a spot on the NL All-Star team.
The stadium sure does empty out when Yusmeiro Petit comes in to pitch, but he saved the bullpen by tossing three innings and allowing one run.
At the plate
Cueto (8-5) lasted a bit longer than his previous start here at AT&T Park, when he threw six pitches before straining his oblique in a Game 1 start during the 2012 NL Division Series.
The Giants knew they had a tough task ahead of them this time.
In addition to the lowest ERA in the majors, Cueto also paced both leagues with a .173 opponent’s average. And he entered with a 1.35 ERA in his previous three outings.
Cueto did not falter again, or double over in pain. He faced the minimum in the first four innings and it took a blooper off the third baseman’s glove for Pablo Sandoval to break up a no-hit bid leading off the fifth.
The Giants only made dangerous contact once, and that came in the sixth when Tyler Colvin’s pinch triple scored Brandon Hicks following a walk. Hunter Pence hit an RBI groundout.
Cueto had allowed only those two hits to Sandoval and Colvin entering the ninth, but he couldn’t finish off his fourth complete game of the season. Pence hit a one-out single and Posey drew a walk to bring Aroldis Chapman into the game. Cozart made a brilliant play at shortstop, gloving Sandoval’s grounder deep in the hole and throwing to force Pence at third base. One more strikeout and another Giants loss was in the books.
It was their seventh loss in their last eight home games.
The Giants did not win in the replay booth, either. They couldn’t get a force play overturned despite replays that appeared to show first baseman Adam Duvall had his foot on the bag on a wide throw. And it was obvious that Hunter Pence trapped a ball in right field even before replays took less than a minute to confirm it.
The Giants announced 41,046 paid, and the club claimed its 289th consecutive regular-season sellout. However they defined it, the paid crowd was their smallest in at least two seasons.
The Giants and Reds continue their four-game series at AT&T Park on Saturday. Matt Cain (1-6, 4.82) takes the mound against Reds right-hander and one-time Giants farmhand Alfredo Simon (10-3, 2.92). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PDT.