Giants drop third straight in Pirates opener

That Giants defense has a flair for the dramatic.

A multiple run-saving diving catch by Angel Pagan, hair a-flowing, in the third off the bat of Andrew McCutchen.

Another leaping grab, this time into Hunter Pence‘s glove, to rob McCutchen again in the fifth. A fast-reacting Matt Duffy nabbing a scorching opening line drive in the seventh and Buster Posey‘s bunt pick up to flick Chris Stewart out of scoring position.

The Giants’ opening game against the Pirates could have been a drag and a half without those plays — they could have been battling back from a four-run deficit, at least — but San Francisco fell with a bit more grace Monday night in a 4-3 loss to the Bucs.

This story has been updated with post-game quotes and additional material from the Giants clubhouse.

So, with that, the Giants segue into June lugging a three-game losing streak. A major cold stretch, relatively speaking, given the 21-9 May the Giants had. But that’s baseball, every player and coach in the game will grunt in the midst of turbulence.

Ryan Vogelsong has been a perpetual chopping block starter; this season, especially, he’s been slated as the fill-in man.

He didn’t lose once in May. Vogey collected four wins, a no-decision, and 1.14 ERA. He gave up four runs over those five games.

Monday night, Vogelsong (L, 4-3, 4.26 ERA) gave up four runs in as many innings before departing after the sixth. He gave up five hits and three earned runs, striking out five. Said Vogelsong of his start:

“I just made too many mistakes in the fifth inning.”

But he thanked the defense behind him:

“They’re always great … you kind of get used to seeing it. Pagan made an unbelievable catch. Pence made an unbelievable catch.”

The Giants got on the board early in the first. Nori Aoki started with a leadoff single and stole second. Hunter Pence reached first on a throwing error and advanced to scoring position on wild pitch to Buster Posey. Brandon Belt finished off the rally with a first pitch double to score Aoki from third and Pence from second and put the Giants up 2-0.

But the Giants couldn’t get anything going against Gerrit Cole (W, 8-2, 1.90 ERA), who was throwing 95 mph-plus fastballs. Said Vogey:

“It’s what we expected. He’s tough.”

The Giants had a chance in the sixth after Panik and Pence singled and Posey walked to load the bases. Belt struck out and Brandon Crawford hit into a double play. Crawford said of Cole:

“He was making some tough pitches. We got Belt to hit but other than that, we couldn’t really capitalize.”

The Pirates answered. Those big catches by Pagan and Pence still scored two sacrifice flies for the Pirates. The Bucs took the lead with a Neil Walker two-run RBI double. Former Giant Chris Stewart hit three consecutive doubles.

The Giants will send rookie Chris Heston (5-3, 3.82 ERA) against A.J. Burnett (5-1, 1.81 ERA) and the Pirates in Game 2 of the series Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.