The loss drops the Giants (87-69) 2 ½ games behind the first-place Dodgers (89-66) with only six games left to play. San Francisco will need to run the table and hope that the Rockies can offer some assistance when the Dodgers head to Colorado for a four-game set on Monday.
The Giants also could have taken the lead in the tight wild-card race when the Chicago Cubs lost their game against the New York Mets on Sunday, 3-2. Instead, they remained a half-game behind the Cubs and will have to get help from the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves.
San Francisco could have done without the scoreboard watching if they had taken care of business on their home turf this past weekend, but dropped three of last four games instead.
Sunday's loss, in particular, was a badly misplayed game defensively as the Giants committed three errors. The defense seemed doomed from the start when Ray Durham could not handle the first play of the game. Cesar Izturis reached base on a routine grounder hit directly at Durham, which the second baseman booted for his 16th error of the season.
The next batter, Jayson Werth, who is increasingly becoming Public Enemy No. 1 amongst Giants fans, deposited a fastball from Brett Tomko (11-7) just barely over the left-field fence for a quick 2-0 Dodger lead in the top half of first inning.
Barry Bonds untied the score in the bottom of the third inning when he crushed a pitch from Jeff Weaver (13-12) to deep center-field for No. 703 lifetime and his 45th of the season, giving the Giants a brief 3-2 lead.
Tomko gave the lead right back in the next inning when Alex Cora singled up the middle to tie the score at 3-3. The Dodgers added the go-ahead run in the top half of the fifth frame when they received a gift call from third base umpire Doug Eddings, who called Izturis safe on a close play at third.
Replays showed that Feliz tagged Izturis before the runner slid into the bag, but not even Giants manager Felipe Alou or the hometown crowd could reverse the umpire's terrible call. Izturis later scored on a bases-loaded walk by Shawn Green.
An incensed Tomko left the game in the same inning and was seen shouting and pointing at Eddings as he headed towards the Giants dugout. Tomko pitched just 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on four hits. He also issued three walks, but struck out six batters.
"That call at third was the difference," Tomko said. "If we get that call, I get out of the inning and I keep pitching. It changed everything."
It indeed changed the landscape of the game as Alou had to summon a shaky bullpen that allowed four more runs to score, essentially sealing the Giants' fate. Eric Gagne got the final six outs of the game for Los Angeles to assure San Francisco's defeat.
The Giants stranded 11 runners on base and had several opportunities to break through in the first five innings against an unimpressive Weaver. A.J. Pierzynski, who is in the midst of a monumental hitting slump, left five men on base, two of which came on his 25th GIDP of the season. He made the last out in three of the first five innings, prompting fans cheer to for his departure when he was pulled on a double-switch.
"This was the most mentally challenging and exhausting game since I've been here," Snow said, a Giant since 1997. "The whole series was that way. We'd go up, they'd go up. We just have to play better, that's all there is to it. We're doing the chasing, and we just have to play better."
Snow has the right idea, but the Giants have a tall task ahead of them by having to play the final six games of the season in Southern California (three against SD, three against LA). Both the Padres and the Dodgers have played the Giants tough this season so San Francisco must remain focused.
"They try hard, those guys," Alou said of his team. "There is a lot of energy here, and they're keeping it. Our guys are really on this thing -- they are really serious about it. This is one last final push."
The Giants faithful hope Alou and company can win all their remaining games to ensure a trip back to San Francisco translates to at least another home game. They have 42,000+ fans willing to spend their hard-earned money to see them play again in October.
Game Notes: Milton Bradley got picked off for the second straight day…Marquis Grissom committed his first error in 170 games…Jerome Williams is scheduled to pitch against the Padres on Thursday. He will make his first start since undergoing surgery on August 4… Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men was seen at the game wearing a Giants cap… Mayor Gavin Newsom and his lovely wife, Kimberly, were also in attendance.
SFDugout.com player of the game: It's hard to pick something positive from such a disappointing loss, but it's comforting to know Barry Bonds is still dialed in, despite not seeing many pitches to hit this past homestand.
Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at email@example.com to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.
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