Kruk & Kuip: Giants had their opportunities, but couldn't execute
Matt Cain's final stat line: 6 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 8 K, LOSS (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants continued to struggle against teams they should beat this season, as they dropped Game 4 to the Miami Marlins 7-2 on Sunday afternoon to close out their first losing homestand since July of last year.
The Giants fell to 13-17 against sub-.500 opponents on the season, and will travel to Los Angeles to start a 10-game road trip having lost six of their last nine games.
Matt Cain (barely) recorded a quality start for his 11th time in 12 career chances against the Marlins, but the Giants lost with him on the mound for just the third time in his last 11 games.
The Giants did connect on their first home run in nine games, as Hunter Pence's solo blast to lead off the seventh inning ended San Francisco's 90-inning home run drought. While it was the team's lone big fly of the homestand, Giants pitchers gave up a combined 10 home runs to the Padres and Marlins.
Starting pitching report
Matt Cain's stretch of three dominant starts was threatened early when Justin Ruggiano sent the second pitch of the game into the left-center field bleachers. Cain's stretch of five consecutive home starts in which he allowed two or fewer runs ended on Brandon Belt's sixth-inning error.
Logan Morrison continued to be a problem for the Giants with a solid single to right field in the fourth inning. And Marcell Ozuna was quick to an inside fastball, lashing a double down the left-field line that plated Morrison from first for the Marlins' second run. It wasn't the only damage the In-N-Out-eating Ozuna inflicted.
But Cain, who has been the victim of six "big innings" this year (three-or-more runs), stranded runners at the corners to limit the damage after the sixth began with two base hits and an error.
The Giants Opening Day starter was removed for a pinch hitter after some of his best work ended the top of the sixth. He allowed three earned runs on six hits over six innings, striking out eight and walking none. The loss dropped him to 5-4 on the season and 90-82 in his career.
Cain, who gave up three homers this homestand, has now allowed 16 blasts this year, second only in the National League to Dan Haren's 19. Against the Padres and Marlins, Giants pitchers allowed home runs in five of the seven games for a total of 10 visiting homers.
Jake Dunning was first out of the 'pen, making his fifth appearance for the Giants since he was recalled on Matt Cain Day, June 13. He breezed through the seventh and eighth innings, facing the minimum six batters and striking out one.
Jean Machi was called on to handle the ninth and went 3-1 to the first batter he faced -- dead-red fastball hitter Marcell Ozuna. Machi served up a get-it-in heater that Ozuna was waiting for and the 22-year old's second career home run -- a no doubter to left that Andres Torres barely turned to chase -- made it 4-2 Marlins.
Things got ugly for Machi when, after a single and a double, Ruggiano connected on his second home run of the game to make it a 7-2 Miami.
Following the home run, Jose Mijares entered and finished the inning on one pitch.
At the plate
With power hitter Pablo Sandoval's energy back in the locker room, Hunter Pence hit the first Giants home run in the last nine games. Of his team-leading 12 home runs, Pence has hit 10 solo shots.
Marco Scutaro and Gregor Blanco provided the only base hits through the first five innings, but no Giants reached third base until Tony Abreu's pinch-hit triple to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Abreu scored on Scutaro's ground ball to break up Nathan Eovaldi's shutout.
With runners on the corners and one out, manager Bruce Bochy called on Joaquin Arias to pinch hit. After a slash down the right-field line that would have tied the game landed just foul, Arias hit a comebacker to Marlins relief pitcher Ryan Webb that started a 1-6-3 inning- and threat-ending double play.
Eovaldi, who won his first game of the season, has matured significantly since he gave up eight runs to the Giants as a prospect for the Dodgers last year.
The 23-year-old right-hander, who was traded to Miami as part of the Hanley Ramirez deal, throws hard; his fastball was consistently 97 miles per hour, mixing in a high-80s slider, a low-80s change-up and a high-70s curveball to keep the Giants off balance.
In the field
The Giants, who committed an MLB-high 25 errors in May, have committed an National League-low nine errors in June. But Brandon Belt's miscue in the sixth inning was costly. It allowed Ed Lucas to score from third base and set up a troublesome situation for Cain with runners on first and third with nobody out. Cain got big to strand both runners, but the Marlins' third run proved to be the game winner.
The longest active regular season home sellout streak stayed alive as the 204th consecutive packed house saw an announced attendance of 41,697 on the foggy Sunday matinee.
The Giants hit the road for a 10-game trip through Los Angeles, Colorado and Cincinnati with their only day off before the All-Star break coming on the Thursday before traveling to face the Rockies. The Giants have a .389 road winning percentage this season, tied for fourth lowest in the league. Game 1 against the Dodgers Monday will put lefties Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-3, 2.96 ERA) and Madison Bumgarner (7-4, 3.25 ERA) against one another.