Giants shut down again, fall out of first place
SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Lincecum fumed in the dugout after being pulled in the fifth. Manager Bruce Bochy took a couple of minutes to calm down his ace.
Now, the skipper wants San Francisco’s overeager offense to chill out, too.
Yovani Gallardo struck out six in seven innings and the Milwaukee Brewers stymied San Francisco for the second straight game, knocking the Giants out of first place in the NL West with a 2-1 victory Saturday night.
“I do think we’re trying to do too much, overswinging a little bit,” Bochy said. “We’ve got to calm down a little bit. I know they all want to be the guy.”
The Giants fell a half-game back of San Diego after the Padres won 8-4 at St. Louis. San Francisco dropped two games behind Atlanta in the NL wild-card race.
The Giants had regained the top spot in the division with a 10-2 rout of the rival Dodgers on Thursday, but have managed only one run in two games since against the non-contending Brewers (69-78).
“We’re a funny team that way,” Bochy said. “We put big runs up or we get shut down.”
Jonathan Lucroy hit a two-run single in the fourth inning that held up for Gallardo (13-7). The right-hander matched his career high for wins also done last year. Gallardo outlasted Lincecum (14-10) and followed up Randy Wolf’s three-hitter from a 3-0 win Friday.
Bochy removed Lincecum after five innings and a season-low 72 pitches. San Francisco trailed 2-0 when Lincecum left. The Brewers figured he was injured.
“He’s their ace, he’s their guy,” Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun said. “He’s been the best pitcher in the National League the last two years. I thought he was hurt. I didn’t know what happened. I was surprised he came out.”
The two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner was visibly upset in the dugout when Nate Schierholtz was called upon to pinch hit in his place in the fifth. Mike Fontenot followed Schierholtz with an RBI groundout that inning.
Lincecum acknowledged he let his frustration show for everybody to see.
“I don’t think any pitcher in here wants to go five and dive. At the same time, I understand it,” he said. “I was a little more heated than I usually get. The emotions got the best of me in that situation.”
He recently got back on track and had put together a strong September so far. He rebounded from a career-worst five-start skid by winning his last three starts.
With 7 2-3 innings Saturday, Lincecum would have become just the fifth pitcher in franchise history with three straight seasons with 200 strikeouts and 200 innings. He will have to wait until his next start to join Mickey Welch (1884-86), Amos Rusie (four seasons, 1890-1893) and Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson (1903-05) and Juan Marichal (four seasons, 1963-1966).
Milwaukee manager Ken Macha defended Bochy’s move with Lincecum.
“Took a chance. Maybe he felt that was his only chance to score some runs,” Macha said.
Gallardo allowed one run on five hits and walked only one batter. He won his second straight start after he beat the Cubs last time out to end a five-start winless stretch. He was 0-2 with three no-decisions during that time. John Axford needed 21 pitches in the ninth to earn his 22nd save in 24 chances – 11 of those to strike out Buster Posey. Axford extended his Brewers rookie record.
Struggling Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval returned to the starting lineup against a right-handed starter after sitting the two previous games against lefties.
Sandoval ended an 0-for-16 stretch with a bloop single to shallow left leading off the fifth. It was just his fourth hit in his last 39 at-bats – and fourth of the month.
“Just trying too much in a stressful situation,” Sandoval said to sum up San Francisco’s offensive trouble. “We’re going to try to get back to first place in the division.”
Giants center fielder Andres Torres, recovering from an emergency appendectomy last Sunday in San Diego, could begin some physical activity in the coming days. Bochy said a “best-case scenario” could have Torres available to play again late next week.
Playing Fontenot, Bochy used his fifth different leadoff hitter in six games since Torres went down.
Notes: Edgar Renteria rested for the Giants after leading off the previous two games. He is nursing a tender elbow but Bochy expected him to play Sunday’s series finale. … Macha would like to get RHP Mark Rogers, recalled last Friday from Double-A Huntsville, into a game in relief for an inning before he throws a bullpen session Tuesday in preparation to start against the Marlins next Friday. … Top Giants draft pick Gary Brown, a speedy CF out of Cal State Fullerton chosen 24th overall in June’s amateur draft, visited the ballpark and spent time on the field before the game playing meet and greet. He is headed to instructional league in Arizona in the coming days. … The Giants drew 41,767 for their 25th sellout.