The ninth inning has not been kind to the SF Giants bullpen this week. Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh they were burned by a two-out walk-off home run. Monday night in Atlanta it was a walk-off base hit, and Tuesday the Giants had enough of a lead to survive a two-run home run in the Braves half of the ninth and still win.
Wednesday, the bullpen was tasked with protecting a two-run lead after a stellar start by Carlos Rodon, but the reigning World Series champion Braves put up a three-spot in the ninth to claim a 4-3 victory.
Left-hander Rodon, who has been ace-like in most of his starts this season, was masterful from the get-go. He allowed one baserunner - a walk - in the first four innings and did not get tagged for a hit until Orlando Arcia singled with one out in the fifth.
Rodon worked around the hit and pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, but in the seventh the Braves briefly figured him out. Marcell Ozuna opened the frame with a single, and Matt Olson - who homered twice in the game on Tuesday - pounced on Rodon's first pitch for a sharp double to score Atlanta's first run.
That was it for the hosts against Rodon, who stranded Olson with a groundout, line out and strikeout. He exited the contest after that inning having struck out 10 and walked just one, with three hits and one run allowed in his seven innings.
Solo home runs almost got the job done for the SF Giants
The offense, meanwhile, was putting up just enough against Charlie Morton to put Rodon in line to earn the victory. Mike Yastrzemski hit Morton's sixth pitch of the game over the right-field fence for a solo shot, and Darin Ruf added a blast of his own in the fourth inning to make it 2-0.
The Giants failed to score again until the ninth, when Tommy La Stella's grounder up the middle plated Ruf for a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth Jake McGee entered the game for John Brebbia, who had tossed a perfect eighth. Dansby Swanson ended McGee's nine-game streak without being scored upon with a leadoff homer to make it 3-2, then Ozuna singled to right. Ozuna then tagged and sprinted to second base on a deep fly out to center field as Austin Slater appeared to hesitate briefly after catching the ball, and the tying run scored on a William Contreras single to left with Ruf playing off the line.
Tyler Rogers was inserted for McGee, and he struck out Arcia but allowed Contreras to steal second base. Former Giant Adam Duvall then knocked in the winning run with a line drive to center field.
The Giants' loss, combined with wins by both Los Angeles and San Diego, drops San Francisco to 4.5 games back of first place in the NL West. The Giants will try to salvage a series split in Thursday's getaway day game in Atlanta.