AT&T PARK — It was 62 degrees, the sky was a soft shade of light blue, and the ball had a lot of carry as it coasted into the outfield.
It should have been the perfect recipe for the Giants to play a high-scoring game and get the three-game sweep on the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A solid outing from Madison Bumgarner and a little ninth-inning rally mojo weren’t enough to silence the Diamondbacks, who got the 3-1 victory over the home team. Sunday’s loss keeps San Francisco 5.5 games behind the NL West leading Snakes, and seven games under .500.
Bumgarner, the Giants most consistent starter this season, entered Sunday’s matinee with a 4-3 career record against the Snakes. He went seven innings Sunday with six strikeouts, throwing 100 pitches, 65 of them strikes.
Skipper Bruce Bochy was as complimentary as ever when talking about Bumgarner’s performance, even in light of the loss:
“With the job that Bumgarner did, and what a great job. … I think we hurt ourselves a little bit today. The offense just couldn’t get going. So it was disappointing we couldn’t finish it, with the job that Madison did.”
Arizona got on the board early in the first inning. A long fly ball hit by Martin Prado past the 382-foot marker in left field missed the web of Kensuke Tanaka’s outstretched glove and allowed Prado to motor all the way to third base.
On the next at bat, Paul Goldschmidt hit a sac-fly to left center that brought Prado home, putting the visitors on the board 1-0.
Bochy commented on the hit by Prado that Tanaka couldn’t get to:
“The ball was hit well. … We have a guy who can run well, he just couldn’t quite get to it. It was a ‘gapper.'”
The first-inning tally by Arizona was the only run scored through the next seven innings.
Not that the Giants didn’t pose a threat. In the bottom of the sixth inning, with one out and Buster Posey on first base with a walk, Pablo Sandoval smacked the ball out into the left center gap for a double.
Third base coach Tim Flannery chose to send Posey home instead of holding him at third. The relay throw to catcher Miguel Montero was close, but Posey’s slide was just seconds too late, and he was called out at the plate.
Fans and media alike took to Twitter to chastise Flannery for sending Posey home. But Bochy wasn’t so quick to throw him under the bus:
“They just made a great relay throw. … Obviously it looked like Buster was going to make it, and the shortstop came up fine and made a great throw. You hate to see that happen, but give them credit for executing.”
A pop fly from Brandon Belt would end the inning, and along with it, San Francisco’s chances of notching a run in the sixth.
In the top of the eighth, Giants reliever Sandy Rosario missed a line drive hit straight at his glove, which allowed Prado to reach base for the third time that afternoon.
Goldschmidt walked, advancing Prado to second. Aaron Hill hit a double play-worthy ball to Brandon Crawford, but the usually-slick shortstop lost grip of the ball and allowed the bases to load with only one out.
Former Giant Cody Ross then hit an RBI single that brought both Prado and Goldschmidt home, and giving Arizona a 3-0 lead.
San Francisco tried for a dramatic comeback in the bottom of the ninth inning. Hunter Pence reached first on a fielding error by pitcher Brad Ziegler, then second baseman Aaron Hill couldn’t get a hold on a ground ball, which allowed Brandon Belt to reach first and advanced Pence to second base with no outs.
Tanaka hit into a fielder’s choice, but beat the play at first, as Pence had time to run home. The Giants were finally on the board 3-1, but were unable to bring any more runners home before the final out.
The Giants homestand continues Monday in a four-game series — including a doubleheader on Tuesday — against the Cincinnati Reds. San Francisco will send Tim Lincecum to the mound in his first start since his 13-strikeout no-hitter down in San Diego. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 pm.
The Giants have lost the final game of their last five series. … Madison Bumgarner allowed a first inning run Sunday for only the third time this season. He surrendered two runs in the first frame of his last start, but then followed with six scoreless innings, just like he did Sunday. … Bumgarner has now thrown seven innings and yielded two runs or fewer in his last seven starts. He has gone 5-2 with a 1.84 ERA during this stretch. … San Francisco starters have allowed two runs or less in six of their last seven outings, posting a 5-2 record with a 2.14 ERA. … Randall Delgado threw 5-2/3 scoreless innings, yielding just three hits and four walks with two strikeouts. He has delivered a quality start in six of his seven outings this season.