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Giants can’t overcome Suárez’s slow start, fall 6-3

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The sun was ready for baseball at AT&T Park on Wednesday afternoon. But the Giants were not, as they dropped the finale of their three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds, 6-3.

The Reds (15-29) simply came to play. After dropping the first two games of the series, they did not waste any time going to work against starter Andrew Suárez (L, 1-3, 4.88 ERA) and the Giants (22-22).

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

After first baseman Joey Votto started the scoring with an RBI single three batters into the game, left fielder Adam Duvall followed launching a three-run homer (8) to left field to put four runs on Suárez before the rookie recorded a single out. The first half-inning finally ended when Suárez struck out the eighth Red to bat, pitcher Matt Harvey.

The Giants responded as quickly as possible. Back-to-back doubles to open the bottom of the first from center fielder Grégor Blanco and right fielder Andrew McCutchen cut the lead to 4-1.

A deep sacrifice fly from first baseman Pablo Sandoval scored McCutchen, but it was ticketed for so much more. After ranging deep into the left-center field gap, the slugging Duvall made a diving catch to prevent extra bases, and perhaps a third run, recording the second out. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the play:

“Duvall, he hits a three-run homer, but he makes that catch, [or] that’s a potential big inning there. That saved them. … He probably helped win the ball game with his defense.”

The slugfest first inning ended with this 4-2 score.

Brandon Belt, playing left field with Sandoval at first, remained hot. He blasted his ninth homer of the season 403 feet to Levi’s Landing in right-center field leading off the bottom of the third, leaving Cincinnati with just a 4-3 lead. He homered in all three games of the series, and has five consecutive games with a home run against the Reds overall. When asked how his recent success compared to all-time home run king Barry Bonds in particular, Belt joked:

“I’ve always said we’re pretty much the same player, so … it’s not surprising.”

The Giants 2018 home run leader added:

“Honestly I think right now I just think I’m seeing the ball well and recognizing which pitches are strikes and which pitches are not, and … making sure that I do stuff with [the strikes].”

Harvey’s afternoon ended one inning later. Harvey (ND, 0-2, 6.17 ERA) scattered seven hits and three runs on 77 pitches over four innings in his second start with Cincinnati.

After the rough first inning, Suárez settled in. The Reds did not score again until Votto, who reached after a groundout to first was called foul despite video showing it did not contact the hitter, came in from third scoring an unearned run on a passed ball with two outs in the top of the fifth.

San Francisco was able to load the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning to pose a serious threat. However, pinch-hitters Austin Jackson and Gorkys Hernández were sat down on a strikeout and popout, respectively, to end the inning and keep the score 5-3.

Suárez ended up allowing eight hits and four earned runs in six innings of work, striking out five. Of his tough start, Suárez said:

“Once the home run happened, I just tried to settle down and make sure I get some ground balls and try to minimize my pitch count. … At first I was trying to overthrow, and then after that I just … relaxed and made sure I hit my spots.”

He was replaced in the top of the seventh by righty Cory Gearrin, who promptly gave up a lead-off home run (7) to Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett giving the Reds a 6-3 advantage at stretch time.

The G-Men had another solid scoring opportunity with runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh, but that also went by the wayside when Sandoval grounded into a double play.

This was the last time the Giants had a real opportunity to score, as they could not quite complete the sweep.

ON DECK

San Francisco’s seven-game homestand continues Thursday against the Colorado Rockies (23-20) with first pitch at 7:15 p.m. The projected starters are Chad Bettis (4-1, 3.12 ERA) against Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 6.94 ERA).

NOTES

The Giants series against the Rockies will be the first time the two divisional opponents matchup this season. The Giants were 7-13 against the Rockies overall last season but 6-3 at home. … Reds first baseman Joey Votto returned to the starting lineup Wednesday for the first time after leaving Monday’s game with back tightness and finished 1-3 with a walk. … Giants outfielder Hunter Pence went 1-for-4 with an RBI in his rehab appearance with AAA-Sacramento Tuesday night. … Shortstop Brandon Crawford‘s .455 average in the month of May is the best in baseball. He added another hit with a ninth inning pinch-hit single.

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