The division is unkind to a team like the Giants, a team that cannot right the wrongs that sank them to the bottom of the pack. It's been a long, hard fall from the one day they spent atop the division, only three wins since they lost the finale of the series to the Padres in late July.
With the Dodgers going in one direction and the Giants in the other, the one-run loss on Friday night was another in a series of disappointments for the Giants. Saturday's game turned out another one-run loss. The difference here was poor pitching helped by an inconsistent strike zone and offense that came in bunches.
Brad Penny started the game for the Dodgers, as he had started the All-Star Game for the National League. Since earning that honor, his earned run average has ballooned to 5.28, way up from the 2.91 mark that got him on the All-Star roster. He'd won two games in the month following the All-Star game. The numbers told the Giants that the time to pounce on Penny was now.
He was in control early, retiring the side in his first trip through the Giants batting order. Steve Finley hits well at Dodger Stadium so it seems, and his fourth inning lead off double was one of three hits he had for the game. Ray Durham scored Finley on a single, and Barry Bonds stepped up with a double of his own, raking a ball to deep centerfield that allowed him to get to second base. Moises Alou brought them both home with his base hit to left field.
This offensive outburst pulled the Giants even with the Dodgers. Matt Cain took the mound with his brilliant win over the Rockies on August 6 behind him. He did have the form that struck out twelve batters in his previous game. He retired the pesky Rafael Furcal to start the game but allowed hits to the next four batters he faced.
Kenny Lofton started the scoring for the Dodgers with a single, and scored on Julio Lugo's double. JD Drew followed with a base hit RBI. Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to sixteen games with a base hit, but Cain escaped further damage when he induced a double play against Wilson Betemit.
Cain can consider himself lucky that his sloppy innings didn't get him in deeper trouble. The Dodgers got another run in the second inning from James Loney's triple. Penny collected the RBI base hit behind Loney. Two walks, to Furcal and Lugo, were left stranded on base. The fourth inning yielded another run, and it was Loney again scoring. Cain would leave two more runners on to escape the jam.
Betemit delivered the knockout blow, figuratively and literally, to Cain and the Giants in the fifth inning. His two-run home run gave the Dodgers a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. The Giants mounted rallies in the fifth and seventh innings and got only one run from each effort, leaving men standing on third to blow their best chances to score. They were within one run of the lead again, and the bullpen backed them up with four scoreless innings. Another game wasted for the team that can't find a way to win.
The loss puts the Giants 6.5 games behind division-leading Los Angeles, their biggest deficit of the season. They are five games out of the Wild Card lead, staring up at eight teams ahead with San Diego, Arizona and Colorado standing in the way in both races. Los Angeles' win gives them a two game advantage on the Padres and the Diamondbacks.
Game Notes: Jamey Wright's first assignment since joining the bullpen for good went well. He pitched two innings and allowed three hits. The most important part of his job was relieving Cain after the Betemit home run. It could have been a bad situation especially after he allowed a hit to Russell Martin, but Wright held it down to get out of the inning... Brad Hennessey replaces Wright in the rotation and he will go Monday night against the Padres in San Diego... Another streak to note: Omar Vizquel has hit safely in eleven straight games, thanks to two hits in this game.
SFDugout's Player of the Game: Word has it Finley was not happy with his amount of playing time. He made good on his demands to play more with a two hit day, stealing a base and scoring two runs. He makes it easy to forget he's forty years old.
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 24th season of fandom. Love/hate mail can be sent to email@example.com, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.
The views expressed in the columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the site's publisher, writers, or other staff members. The content on this site may not be redistributed without the expressed consent of SFDugout.com.