Rewind: Cubs at Giants, Game 4

Problems old and new come back to haunt the Giants in the finale of a four-game set against the Chicago Cubs. A bullpen that was the club's strength for weeks blows it, and former Giants continue to torment their old team.

In a series against the Cubs, a club knows what to look out for. If a team can get hits against their great starting pitching and for the love of God keep Derrek Lee from getting on base, said team has a shot to win. The Giants dropped the series Sunday afternoon, and neither of Chicago’s main weapons touched them. National League Most Valuable Player candidate Lee was silent in three at-bats; two fly outs, a strikeout and an intentional walk issued in the eighth inning, because even with an 0-3 day he’s a monster. Starter Glendon Rusch doesn’t get the same amount of ink as Chicago’s big guns do, but in five and one thirds innings of solid pitching with two runs and seven hits allowed he kept the Cubs in it.

Giants pitcher Brett Tomko took the mound today following his second exile to the bullpen, in place of injured starter Kevin Correia. His seven innings of work answered what Rusch put up, two runs and three hits. The afternoon had see-saw scoring when the clubs did manage to push a run across home plate and matching zeroes in between.

Randy Winn leads the major leagues in batting average in the month of September at .513, and his bat stayed hot. He led off for the Giants with a double and after back to back strikeouts from Omar Vizquel and the equally hot-hitting Ray Durham, in manager Felipe Alou’s three hole in the lineup, Moises Alou brought Winn home with a single to left field. The Cubs came right back in the top of the second inning, with their own clutch hitting. Nomar Garciaparra has been tearing it up since tearing himself up. He’s batted .319 since returning from a horrific groin tear, similar to the one Giants closer Armando Benitez suffered this year, an injury that kept him out of action for over three months. Showing no signs of rust he smacked a base hit into left center and scored on Todd Walker’s triple. It was Garciparra's first hit of two on Sunday afternoon, showing that his team’s dog and pony show doesn’t end and begin with Lee.

Most of the day the scoring went as such. If one team went ahead, the other would respond quickly. Rusch and Tomko both pitched well. It’s something the Giants have become used to in the last few weeks, solid starts on either end of the equation. The back and forth battle began anew with Matt Murton’s one-out solo home run in the top of the fifth to put the Cubs ahead. It was brief, for Alou and Pedro Feliz opened the bottom of the sixth with consecutive singles. Lance Niekro landed the knockout blow on Rusch, albeit in a weird manner. He grounded out to second, but Feliz and Alou both advanced on the play, around a tag from Neifi Perez and throws from first to second and from second to third. New Cubs pitcher Michael Wertz’s control problems gave the Giants the tying run, a ninety foot gift in the form of a wild pitch that scored Alou from third.

With a tie game going into the eighth inning and Tomko’s meter expired, the bullpen was counted on to sustain the club until they could hit again. Some fans might blame LaTroy Hawkins, and some might point fingers to the curse of ex-Giants playing against his old club. Whatever the case, Hawkins came into the game with the confidence of his teammates, manager and fans behind him. Since the All-Star Break his ERA is a tidy 2.01 in 22.1 innings pitched. He didn’t look like the pitcher the numbers back up when he allowed two doubles to Jerry Hairston and Neifi Perez in the eighth inning, both hits coming with two outs. Perez’s double scored Hairston for the go-ahead run, and with Chicago closer Ryan Dempster’s perfect ninth inning, it proved to be the difference. Another tightly pitched series turned into a failure for the Giants, dropping three of four games they had chances to win. Not the best way to open an important three-game set against the division-leading San Diego Padres on Monday. Player of the Game: Even as he took a no-decision and allowed two runs Tomko continued the pace set by the starting pitching with his solid outing. He kept it close all afternoon and didn’t lose confidence in his stuff as he’s prone to do when things don’t go his way.

Game notes: Fiesta Gigante kicks off Monday night, a celebration of Hispanic heritage, surely to be appreciated in the culturally rich San Francisco Bay Area. Festivities begin before the game and include music, food and dancing…In case you’ve been living under a rock, yes, Barry Bonds will be in the lineup Monday night. The media and fan scramble is on…Alou left the game after the seventh inning. Nothing visible in the way of injury, but speculation has it that he tweaked something sliding into home on the wild pitch in the sixth. Sources are mum on details.

Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on…even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 23rd season of fandom and first where she's had the honor to write for the Giants on Love/hate mail can be sent to, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.

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