Marlins win to spoil sweep for surging Giants

The Giants couldn’t complete their weekend sweep of the Miami Marlins, going down 5-4 in Sunday’s series finale at AT&T Park.

Twelve Giants hits and occasionally flashy defense weren’t enough to top the Marlins (6-11), who brought sticks of their own to AT&T Park to tag Giants pitchers to the tune of 14 hits, including two home runs.

Giants lefty Josh Osich (L, 0-1, 2.89  ERA) earned the loss for the Giants while reliever Kyle Barraclough (W, 1-0, ) earned the win for the Marlins.

This post has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The Giants (9-11) went ahead 1-0 in the second inning on a two-out Gregor Blanco RBI single that drove Brandon Crawford in from second base.

The fish struck back on an RBI fielder’s choice from left fielder Christian Yelich in the top half of the third. Yelich just beat out Crawford’s throw to first that would have ended the inning. Dee Gordon, who singled, stole second and then stole third earlier in the inning, scored on the play to tie the game at 1-1.

Gordon, last year’s MLB stolen base champion with 58, now has six stolen bases in 2016.

The force out gave Giants starter Matt Cain (0-2) an all-important second out of the inning, with the powerful Giancarlo Stanton coming up to bat. That meeting, however, would be postponed.

The Marlins helped Cain out of the jam after Yelich was caught trying to steal second base. The throw from Giants catcher Trevor Brown beat Yelich by a step and a half and capped the damage caused in the inning.

On today’s no decision, Cain said escaping the elusive fifth inning Sunday was encouraging going into preparation for his next start against the Mets:

“I thought Browny (catcher Trevor Brown) and I did a good job mixing it up. We got in some situations today where I made some good pitches and I just couldn’t get some double plays turned. You’ve gotta give some credit to Yelich. He moves well and he did a good job of getting down the line.”

The postponement of Stanton and Cain’s coming together worked out well for San Francisco, because the Marlins’ all-time home run leader drove Cain’s very first offering of the fourth into the left field bleachers. It was Cain’s 50th pitch of the afternoon, resulting in his second home run allowed on the year.

Hunter Pence responded in the bottom half of the fourth, treating Giants fans to a 458-foot shot that appeared to still be in ascendance as it eclipsed the center field wall. It was Pence’s third on the season and seemed to leave the yard before he was even halfway to first base. The drive’s 111 mph exit speed suggests it may have done just that.

The Marlins would take the lead again, posting one-run innings in the fifth and sixth, both times eliciting offensive assaults from the Giants.

Angel Pagan, leading off and playing left field Sunday, was in the thick of a lot of the game’s action. He reached base on a one-out error by Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas in the fifth, and in the next at bat advanced to second on a single by Joe Panik. Matt Duffy then served a line drive to left field that Yelich fielded cleanly. With Pagan rounding third to presumably tie the score at three, Yelich delivered a no-hop strike that beat Pagan by half ‘a step for the inning’s second out. The Marlins escaped the fifth with their lead intact.

Then in the sixth inning, Pagan lost a skied J.T. Realmuto pop up in the sun. The ball dropped in for a double and resulted in a run later in the inning. It was ruled a hit, but Pagan took responsibility for the ball dropping in after the game:

I’m not gonna make any excuses. I’m not gonna say ‘glasses’ or whatever. I just didn’t make a play. …  That’s just baseball. We want to win them all but the reality is that things are gonna happen throughout the game. Games like this are gonna happen but tomorrow’s another day. That’s the best thing about baseball and life. If you’re lucky enough, you get another opportunity tomorrow. We’ve got another opportunity tomorrow to win a ballgame.”

The Giants rallied for two runs in the bottom half of the sixth to lock the game at 4-4 after the bullpen took over for Cain. The Giants starter finished the afternoon still in search for his first victory of the season. The three-time All Star was pulled midway through the sixth, having allowed 10 hits and four earned runs.

Cain threw a season-high 99 pitches Sunday, perhaps testament to Manager Bruce Bochy‘s stated plan to stretch his number five starter’s stamina out as the season progresses.

Said Bochy of Cain after the game:

His delivery was better today. … He’s gonna build his arm up and now, when he gets into that 70-, 80-pitch limit, he’s gonna still have his good command with all his pitches working for him.”

Miami took the lead for good in the eighth behind a Realmuto solo drive into the left field seats off Osich. The homer was young Marlins catcher’s first of 2016.

Despite it succumbing the game-deciding run, Bochy extended his praise for the Giants’ pitching to the club’s bullpen, saying its young arms have responded well to a rash of early-season injuries within their ranks:

They’re gonna learn from the mistakes they make. They know at any point in the game it’s just one pitch at a time. Every pitch is important. Most of them have pitched in crisis type situations before they come up here, whether they’re closers or set-up guys in the minor leagues. … We’re missing a couple relievers but I think, if we look at it lately, our bullpen’s been doing a good job with these young kids.”

The Giants bullpen allowed five hits, two walks and recorded five strike outs on the afternoon, with Realmuto’s home run providing the group’s only run conceded.

Down one run in the ninth, the Giants had the heart of the order to look forward to, but Marlins closer A.J. Ramos shut the door. Ramos struck out Giants third baseman Matt Duffy and first baseman Buster Posey for the first two outs of the inning before giving up a hard ground ball single to Pence.

Pence’s hit proved unfruitful for San Francisco, as rookie catcher Trevor Brown stepped up to the plate with a chance to replicate the heroics he displayed in the Giants’ walk-off win over the Dodgers on April 8. On that date, Brown broke up the Dodgers’ combined no-hitter with his first home run of the season, a shot that tied the game and set the table for a 10th inning walk-off home run from Brandon Crawford.

Brown (.250/.308/.667) said he took a simple approach going into his last at bat:

“My mindset was kind of just trying to get that next guy up. It just didn’t work out. … I felt like I was seeing his pitches good. I was checking off pretty early. That last one, I got a fastball and honestly I thought I saw that one pretty good, too. I was watching it on video and it looks like I just kind of pulled off at the last second and got it off the end.”

The swing resulted in Brown’s second broken-bat ground out on the day and the Giants’ sixth loss in eight games.

The Giants close their current 10-game home stand with a three-game set against the San Diego Padres starting Monday night. Madison Bumgarner (1-2) will face Padres left-hander Drew Pomeranz (2-1), with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m..