LOS ANGELES (AP) — The San Francisco Giants’ bullpen did not live up to the major league-best 1.75 ERA they started the day with.
Jeremy Affeldt gave up a tiebreaking RBI double to Dee Gordon with two outs in the seventh inning, Yasiel Puig followed with another double off Jean Machi and Juan Gutierrez allowed two more runs in the eighth as the NL West leaders lost 6-2 to Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday in Matt Cain’s first start off the disabled list.
“They got nicked up a little, but they had been so good and really solid all year,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s going to happen.”
Affeldt (0-1) had pitched 10 2-3 scoreless innings in his 10 previous appearances since coming off the DL on April 16. But Drew Butera doubled to right-center with one out and scored on Gordon’s two-out hit inside third base, with Pablo Sandoval playing in on the grass against the Dodgers’ speedy leadoff hitter. Puig then greeted Machi with a drive that landed just inside the left field line and hopped over the short fence in the corner.
“That’s a bad break,” Bochy said. “Pablo had to cover the bunt with two outs. Gordon hit it in a good spot, and the ball just bounced by him.”
Cain was charged with two runs, three hits and four walks over five-plus innings. The three-time All-Star hadn’t pitched since April 23 and missed two turns in the rotation because of a cut on the tip of his index finger. He was hurt in the clubhouse kitchen at AT&T Park when he tried to catch a knife that fell out of his hand.
“Cain pitched a good game and pounded the zone,” said Matt Kemp, who led off the ninth with his homer off Gutierrez. “He threw strikes, mixed his pitches up well and got them over the plate. We couldn’t really get anything off of him. But we waited him out, got him out of there, got to their bullpen and scored some runs at the end for the W.”
Affeldt came on in the sixth with the bases loaded and none out after Cain gave up two walks around a towering single by Puig that left fielder Michael Morse got a late start on. Gordon scored on a double-play grounder by Adrian Gonzalez, and Kemp followed with an RBI single that tied it 2-all.
“It kind of got out of hand in the sixth,” Cain said. “I let that inning get away from us and that ended up being a turning point.”
Zack Greinke (6-1) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking three. The right-hander extended his streak to 20 consecutive starts in which he’s allowed fewer than three runs – the longest by any pitcher since the “dead ball” era.
“I don’t think anyone thinks we can’t beat the Giants,” Greinke said. “The most important thing is winning a game we were losing for a long time. We haven’t had many of these lately – tie games or extra-inning games where we came back and won. It’s a little bit bigger because it was against the Giants.”
Greinke escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first by fanning Sandoval, who hasn’t driven home a run in 20 games and 68 at-bats since his RBI single against the Dodgers on April 16. He has only two hits in his last 26 at-bats with men in scoring position.
The Giants loaded the bases again in the second with none out, and managed to scratch out two runs. Hunter Pence drove in Angel Pagan with a sacrifice fly to center and Brandon Hicks scored on Buster Posey’s single.
Less than 24 hours after Dodgers left-hander Paul Maholm broke the left thumb of Giants first baseman Brandon Belt with a pitch, Cain plunked Hanley Ramirez above the left elbow on a 1-2 count after Gordon led off the first inning with a single and stole two bases. But Cain escaped the jam, striking out Gonzalez and retiring Kemp on a flyball.
Former Giants closer Brian Wilson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, retiring Pence on a foul pop to Butera behind the plate after a visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.
NOTES: Posey started at first base for Belt, who is expected to be out for at least six weeks is in San Francisco to see a hand specialist. Bochy said that Morse will get the bulk of the playing time at first because he has more major league experience at that position than anyone else on the roster. … The Giants purchased the contract of OF Tyler Colvin from Triple-A Fresno and optioned RHP George Kontos to their Pacific Coast League club. … INF Marco Scutaro was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Colvin, who signed with the Giants in February after spending his first five big league seasons with the Cubs and Rockies. Scutaro has yet to play this season because of a lower back strain.