video thumbnail

SF@ARI: Posey launches his first homer of the season

PHOENIX -- The Giants continued to send mixed messages Sunday, though the results remained loud and clear.

Their third consecutive one-run loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-6, was the most frustrating setback of the season-opening series from San Francisco's perspective.

The Giants continued to score in ample numbers, though don't compare them to the gangs of the Mays-McCovey-Cepeda era yet. They're batting a mere .217 with runners in scoring position and .219 overall. However, San Francisco did hit four home runs in the series, including Buster Posey's first since last April 24.

The starting rotation, considered one of the strongest in the Major Leagues, looked vulnerable all weekend. Matt Cain squandered most of a 6-0 lead by allowing five runs in six innings, sealing the starters' three-day ERA at 8.22.

The team that must rely on pitching and defense scuffled in both areas. Three of the D-backs hitters San Francisco walked Sunday came around to score. Also, the Giants matched their Opening Day output by committing three errors. Two of those misplays abetted Arizona's two-run, seventh-inning uprising that erased San Francisco's 6-5 lead.

Picked by one prestigious national publication to reach the World Series, the Giants have staggered to an 0-3 start for the first time since 1984, when they finished last in the National League West with a 66-96 record and recorded the league's worst ERA and fielding percentage.

What's that again? Pitching and defense?

The Giants also left Chase Field looking decidedly inferior to the D-backs, the reigning division champions who extended their winning streak against San Francisco to eight games, including seven here.

"I don't get caught up in those kind of numbers as much as we need to play well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

San Francisco's pitchers, who teamed with an offense that ranked last in scoring in the NL last year, readily praised the hitters while scolding themselves.

"They're going to do their job," Cain said. "We have to make sure to get back on ours."

Said reliever Jeremy Affeldt of the sweep, "It's a good wakeup call."

The Giants seemed extremely awake at the outset. They assumed temporary control with three-run outbursts in the second and third innings off Arizona starter Josh Collmenter. Posey singled to lead off the second and scored on Brandon Crawford's double, which also delivered Aubrey Huff with the help of a D-backs error. One inning later, Pablo Sandoval lined an RBI single before Posey collected his first home run since he sustained his season-ending left leg injuries last May 25.

The unruffled D-backs eroded Cain. Lyle Overbay stroked a two-run double in the fourth inning and combined with Ryan Roberts to hit back-to-back homers in a three-run sixth.

"The thing about these guys is almost any of them can take you deep," Cain said. "You have to concentrate on making good pitches to all of them. That's tough sometimes."

The D-backs needed only one hit to forge ahead in the seventh. Pinch-hitter Jason Kubel delivered it, a leadoff single against Affeldt. Willie Bloomquist's grounder forced Kubel at second base before Affeldt walked Aaron Hill and Santiago Casilla walked Justin Upton to load the bases.

Facing Javier Lopez, Miguel Montero smacked a one-hopper to shortstop that forced the usually sure-handed Crawford to retreat on the ball. He dropped it, enabling Bloomquist to score the tying run.

"I was trying to get a big hop," Crawford said. "[The infield] was playing hard all weekend. I tried to get the big hop and then I just kind of rushed it -- tried to get two [outs] instead of making sure of one."

In came Sergio Romo, who induced Chris Young's grounder to third base. Sandoval's throw home was slightly high and wide. But it arrived before Hill and was easily catchable. But Posey stepped forward with his left foot to grab the ball. Television replays and photographs indicated that Posey, who was charged with an error, never had his foot on the plate. Umpire Mike DiMuro called Hill safe with Arizona's go-ahead run.

Ejected for arguing with DiMuro -- "I got word [Posey] was on home plate and that's when I lost it" -- Bochy later admitted that the call was correct.

Posey acknowledged that he wasn't certain of his execution.

"I couldn't feel the plate, as hard as the ground is there," he said.

Posey denied that striding forward with his left foot was an act of self-preservation in the wake of last year's excruciating injuries.

"You try to treat the play like you're a first baseman," he said.

Given another chance to influence the outcome, Posey struck out with two on and two out in the ninth inning against substitute D-backs closer Bryan Shaw.

"Any time you sweep a team it's special and awesome, but especially against the Giants, to continue on the win streak that finished last year," Shaw said.

Footnote: The Giants haven't lost four games in a row to christen the season since 1950. Comments