On the day after the San Francisco Giants played on the winning end of a laugher, they found themselves on the bad end of the stick, as the Chicago Cubs came into town and humbled them 8-4 in the opener of the three-game series. Hard-luck pitcher Jeff Samardzija (0-4, ERA 1.46, coming into the game) finally earned a victory after running his winless streak to sixteen starts, pitching seven innings and allowing four runs on five hits.
The Giants were leading 3-1 going into the fifth, when it seemed as though the Cubs paused midway through the game to take some extra batting practice. Chicago punched out ten base hits during the fifth through seventh innings, as they took an 8-3 lead that proved insurmountable.
Nate Schierholtz returned to AT&T Park with the Cubs, hitting his first home run of the season and adding a single. He also made a dazzling catch off the bat of Angel Pagan, deep in Triples Alley on the dead sprint. Nate always did play right field with a flair for the glitter.
Emilio Bonifacio (single, triple), Anthony Rizzo (single, double), Luis Valbuena (two singles) and Wellington Castillo (two singles) had two hits apiece, but the big blow was a two-out double off the bat of Samardzija, who figured he’d better do the job himself. Hunter Pence had been playing in and Samardzija just clubbed it over his head, knocking in Schierholtz.
For the Giants it was mostly Pablo Sandoval, who doubled in the first to drive in Pagan and hit his fifth homer in eight games in the third, with Buster Posey aboard. Brandon Crawford added an RBI single in the seventh.
Yusmeiro Petit started and worked five innings, giving up four runs on six hits. David Huff took considerably less time (one and two-thirds innings) to also give up four runs, allowing seven hits during his stint. It took George Kontos one pitch to induce a double-play ball to end the seventh inning. Javier Lopez and Juan Gutierrez finished out the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
For the Cubs, Justin Grimm was summoned when Samardzija gave up a single to Pagan leading off the eighth. He proceeded to get the next three batters in order before handing the ball to rookie Neil Ramirez in the ninth. Though Ramirez allowed two walks, he eventually got Brandon Hicks swinging, to end the game.
Today’s game goes to show that the Giants cannot continue to sustain injuries without costing them ballgames. Petit did not have it and neither did Huff. Here’s hoping that Matt Cain is up to his next start.
With San Francisco playing as hot as they have, a letdown was inevitable. They need to get back into the win column tomorrow, with Tim Hudson going for them, and hopefully a continuing red-hot Pablo Sandoval.