AT&T PARK —It didn’t take a Ph.D in nuclear physics to know the odds were stacked against the Giants with the Pittsburgh Pirates coming into town.
But heck, at least they kept the game tight and interesting for a couple of innings.
Starter Matt Cain left the game with a right forearm contusion and the bullpen let the game spiral far beyond the Giants’ ability to catch up.
An eighth-inning rally provided some excitement, but it wasn’t enough to get the Giants a win as they dropped the series opener to the NL Central titans 10-5.
Manager Bruce Bochy was frank after the game, acknowledging both the good and the bad in Thursday night’s game:
Giants manager Bruce Bochy
Video: CSN Bay Area
“It’s really incredible. You lose your starter tonight, guys battle back hard, and the ‘pen there in the fifth just had their struggles. It’s been a tough week for the fellas. But, as I keep saying, we’ve got to come out and just be ready to go tomorrow, play hard and see what happens.”
Cain gave up three consecutive singles to open up the game, letting Pittsburgh on the board 1-0 in the top of the first with no outs.
The Horse then settled down, struck out red hot Pedro Alvarez, and got out of the inning without allowing more damage.
Until the top of the second inning, that is, when lead-off hitter Garrett Jones hit a towering solo shot over the right field wall and into McCovey Cove to give the Pirates the 2-0 lead.
It was the first time a Pirate had a splash hit since August of 2007, when Adam LaRoche hit a homer into the bay off of Tim Lincecum.
Two batters later, shortstop Jordy Mercer sent the ball clear over the left field wall on a 1-1 pitch, and the Bucs were up 3-0 before the inning was over.
The home team finally got on the board in the bottom of the third. Marco Scutaro led off with a five-pitch walk. Following Joaquin Arias’ strikeout, Brandon Belt smacked a single past second baseman Neil Walker, which advanced Scutaro to third.
On the next at bat, Buster Posey hit a towering sacrifice fly out to left fielder Jose Tabata at the 339-foot marker, giving Scutaro time to trot home and cut the Pirates lead to 3-1.
San Francisco’s momentum was halted when, in the top of the fourth, Gaby Sanchez lined the ball right into Cain’s right forearm. The Giants got the out, but Cain left the game, bringing in reliever Guillermo Moscoso (1-2, 5.40 ERA).
Bochy said there was still no definitive word on whether or not Cain was banged up enough to miss his next start:
“He’s got a pretty good contusion on the right forearm. Did have x-rays, they’re negative. Pretty sore. I’ll know more tomorrow. … But he took a pretty good shot there, and it’ll be pretty sore for a while.”
Pablo Sandoval’s lead-off walk started the Orange and Black’s fourth-inning retaliation run. Brett Pill and Gregor Blanco followed up with back-to-back singles, and Moscoso’s sac bunt advanced runners.
With two outs, Marco Scutaro hit an RBI single up the center field gap. Sandoval and Pill — who went 3-for-4 in the game — trotted home to tie the game at 3-3 and bring the energized crowd of 41,733 to their feet.
But Pittsburgh struck back quickly thanks to a first-pitch RBI double by Alvarez off of Jose Mijares to make the score 5-3 with nobody out.
Both Russell Martin and Sanchez hit sacrifice flies to put the Pirates on top 7-3. Tabata hit a bases-clearing double to put the Buccos up 10-3 before the inning was over.
In the bottom of the eighth, Brandon Crawford’s two-run double sparked a mini-rally but Nick Noonan struck out to end the frame. San Francisco went down quietly in the bottom of the ninth.
The Giants will aim to carry any late momentum into Friday’s game. Their most consistent starter, Madison Bumgarner (11-7, 2.87) takes the mound opposed by Charlie Morton (4-3, 3.67) at 7:15 p.m.
With Thursday’s loss, the Giants drop to 1-3 on this seven game homestand against the Red Sox (1-2) and Pirates (0-1). … The loss marked the third time this season the Giants allowed 10+ runs in back-to-back games. … Cain allowed two or more home runs for the sixth time this season. He has allowed 21 homers on the season, one short of his career high (2009 and 2010). … The Giants finished the game 2-for-6 with RISP and are now 2-for-21 through the first five games of this seven-game set. … Andrew McCutchen went 2-for-3 with two walks, one RBI and one run scored. He has now hit safely in each of his last nine games against the Giants, batting .459 (17-for-37) with 10 RBIs and 12 runs scored… Alvarez went 2-for-4 with two doubles, one run scored, and two RBI’s… Alvarez now has 85 RBIs on the season, which ranks as fourth-most in the league and matches his career high.