PHOENIX – The Giants have found every way to lose over these last two weeks. Their latest setback pretty much boiled down to one thing.
Arizona’s outfielders made nearly all the plays, and the Giants’ outfielders showed Tim Lincecum zero glove love.
Lincecum gave up three damaging extra-base hits in his six innings and neither Gregor Blanco nor Michael Morse could even manage to get leather on them as the Giants lost 4-1 at Chase Field Friday night.
The Giants got one break when Pablo Sandoval’s RBI triple in the first inning eluded the dive of center fielder Ender Inciarte. But Gold Glove right fielder Gerardo Parra got a tremendous jump on Brandon Crawford’s two-out line drive over his head to make a catch and strand two baserunners.
That play set the tone for the night as the Giants lost their sixth consecutive and are 1-9 over their last 10.
Starting pitching report
Lincecum (5-5) was mostly around the plate and issued just one walk in six innings, but he didn’t have put-away stuff.
His one strikeout tied a career low and marked just the second time in 235 career starts that he didn’t record multiple strikeouts (also June 11, 2011 vs. Reds in a four-inning outing).
And no, Paul Goldschmidt wasn’t Lincecum’s lone strikeout victim Friday night. It’s a twisted thought, but it almost seemed like a push when Goldschmidt merely went 2 for 2 with a double and a walk. (He’s now 15 for 26 – yes, that’s .577 -- with seven homers against the former Cy Young winner.)
A one-out walk to Golschmidt started the Diamondbacks’ two-run rally in the fourth that put them ahead. Aaron Hill hit an RBI single and scored when Martin Prado lofted a double that landed in front of the center field wall and eluded Blanco, who got within vicinity but couldn’t get a glove on it.
Inciarte singled to start the fifth, and after Gerardo Parra flied out to the warning track in right field, Chris Owings followed with another deep shot to center. This one was deeper than Prado’s shot and hit the wall, so it would’ve been a gem of a play. Blanco again got within sniffing distance, but his leap was mistimed and he didn’t really give himself a chance to make a play.
At least Blanco recovered well enough to team with Crawford on a fine relay to the plate, where Owings was tagged out trying to score. The umpires used their discretion to review the play to ensure Hector Sanchez wasn’t blocking the plate until he was in the act of fielding the ball. It took barely a minute to show that plate umpire Chris Iassogna got it right. The inning was over, but Owings’ RBI triple made it 3-1.
Goldschmidt helped ensure Lincecum would not post a quality start. He hit a double to start the sixth inning that eluded Morse, whose back thudded against the left field wall as he failed to get a glove on the ball. Hill capped off his productive night by hitting a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.
Lincecum threw 97 pitches in his six innings.
Javier Lopez got extended for four outs and Juan Gutierrez retired two batters after that.
At the plate
Sandoval loves hitting at Chase Field, where he had a .343 average entering the game. He might have benefited from Inciarte’s uncertain route to the ball on his triple in the first inning. But the way the Giants were squaring it up against Josh Collmenter (5-4) while also running up his pitch count, it looked like a potential slumpbuster game.
It didn’t happen. Morse couldn’t take advantage of a couple pitches down the middle, and flied out to strand two runners in both the third and fifth innings. The Giants managed just five hits despite plenty of hard contact – their lowest output over this 10-game rut.
Inciarte made an impressive play to take an extra-base hit away from Hunter Pence in the fifth.
Whether it’s Angel Pagan or Gregor Blanco who starts on Saturday, the Giants need better play from their center fielders.
The Diamondbacks announced 29,295 paid, and I don’t mean to brag, but my fancy hotel here even has a sauna. It’s called going outside. Temps hit a high of 105 degrees Friday.
The Giants and Diamondbacks continue their three-game series at Chase Field on Saturday. Ryan Vogelsong (4-3, 3.94 ERA) takes the mound against Arizona right-hander Brandon McCarthy (1-9, 5.18). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PDT.