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Giants find a lead they can’t climb back from after bullpen melts down

Chris Mezzavilla/KNBR

The Giants have proven adept at chipping away at sizable deficits, entering Sunday’s play having come back from a pair of four-run leads already this year.

They did it a third time against the Rangers. But they could not do it a fourth time.

Their pitching let them down and their hitting ran out of firepower, the Giants climbing back into a game only to watch it collapse in the seventh in a 9-5 loss at Oracle Park that costs them a sweep and a winning record.

The Giants (5-5) now head to Colorado to begin a 10-game road trip, and they won’t return to San Francisco until Aug. 14, when the A’s are in town. Of course, a very real possibility exists the Giants just played their last home game of the year as COVID-19 worries and cases continually spike around the league, which is trying to navigate positive tests on the Marlins, Phillies and Cardinals.

For the Giants, their hitting, both from a starting lineup that was arranged against lefty Kolby Allard and pinch-hit bats that entered later in the game, swung well enough to win. But just-called-up Andrew Triggs and curiously-called-on Tyler Anderson imploded in the seventh.

Triggs, the former Athletic making his first big-league appearance in over two years after Drew Smyly hit the IL, walked the bases loaded and was replaced by Anderson, who would be the next in line to take Smyly’s starts. After a sacrifice, Anderson watched lefty slugger Joey Gallo clear the Triples Alley fence — a homer that probably would have stayed in last year — and the Giants were in a four-run hole again.

They already had escaped from one. The Giants’ rally began in the bottom of the fifth, when Brandon Crawford launched a long single off the right-field wall and came around to score on a Mike Yastrzemski ground out, cutting the lead to 5-2.

That lead would disappear an inning later. Evan Longoria opened the bottom of the sixth with his first home run of the year, and after a Donovan Solano single (of course), Chadwick Tromp crushed his first homer of his career off righty Jesse Chavez.

Solano, who finished 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, is slashing an impossible .484/.500/.710. He will be in the lineup every day.

There were nice moments, and Jeff Samardzija pitching five innings — the first Giants starter to make it that far, which took MLB-record time — qualifies as one. But he had more poor moments. Samardzija was inconsistent, getting into trouble early and late but cruising in between.

The Rangers jumped on him for three runs in the second, when Scott Heineman’s long double off a cutter plated two. Jeff Mathis then drove in Heineman, an early sign that Samardzija would not have it again after allowing five runs in four innings in his season debut.

But Samardzija settled from there, retiring seven straight Rangers until the fifth, when Shin-Soo Choo crushed a hanging cutter for a two-run Splash Hit. In his five innings, Samardzija allowed five runs and struck out just one, his inability to miss bats still a large concern.

Hunter Pence snapped his skid, tripling in the third after starting the year 0-for-23, and made a nice running catch later in the game. But there were only silver linings after a bullpen that has been strong melted down.


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