© Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants got everything they could have hoped out of Derek Holland, a starter recently converted into a reliever, then called upon to start again Tuesday night against the visiting Chicago Cubs. For six innings, he was nearly perfect, allowing four hits, no runs, yielding eight strikeouts, and restricting any Cub to pass second base once.
But the seventh inning was not kind to the first-year Giant. Cubs shortstop Addison Russell doubled off Holland to lead off the inning. Reliever Sam Dyson replaced Holland, threw a changeup in the dirt four pitches in, which bounced off catcher Nick Hundley’s globe. He flung a late throw to third base, the ball skipped past Pablo Sandoval, and Russell trotted home to score the only run the Cubs needed, as Chicago’s fans bellows echoed over Giants fans’ groans.
One run was all Tuesday night required. The Cubs added an insurance run when Cubs catcher Victor Caratini hit an RBI double in the seventh inning to cap the night’s scoring.
Cubs 2, Giants 0. It was San Francisco’s first home shutout loss of the season.
This performance summoned nightmares from San Francisco’s three-game sweep to the Colorado Rockies before returning home last week. The Giants had leadoff runners on first base twice Tuesday night. Both opportunities ended in eventual double plays.
In the past four games entering their 2-0 loss, the Giants yielded more than 10 hits per game. They had only three Tuesday night. San Francisco’s hitters looked lost, No. 1 through No. 9.
The Giants’ offensive season has been highlighted with drastic spurts of production and riddled with alarming slumps. Most of the former has been done at home, where the Giants are a National League West-best 29-17. But Tuesday night, they could not help Holland, who pitched one of his best games of the season.
He entered Tuesday with his previous two appearances coming in relief, which resulted in five combined earned runs over 6.1 innings. But he commanded his breaking ball this time around, fooling Cubs batters all game long, compiling eight strikeouts and allowing just five hits. Seventy-two percent of his pitches ended in strikes.
Unfittingly, it ended in a loss.
The Giants, now 48-46 and trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks by four games for the division lead, will look to rediscover their bats in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale with the Cubs.