SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants’ outfield defense didn’t do Anthony DeSclafani many favors on Sunday afternoon, but he mostly found ways to dig deep and pitch his way out of jams. That changed with one big swing of the bat from Adam Duvall.
Duvall launched a two-run home run off DeSclafani in the seventh inning to help lift the Braves to a 3-0 win, denying the Giants a three-game sweep at Oracle Park. The loss, coupled with the Dodgers’ 8-5 win in Cincinnati, trimmed San Francisco’s lead for first place in the National League West to one game with 12 regular-season games to go.
DeSclafani exited after producing his third quality start this month, but he was outdueled by Braves left-hander Max Fried, who allowed only three hits over seven scoreless innings. The Giants stacked their lineup with right-handed hitters -- shortstop Brandon Crawford was the only lefty hitter to start -- but they put only three runners in scoring position in their first shutout loss since falling, 9-0, at Atlanta on Aug. 29.
“Fried was nasty,” San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said. “That was as good of a start as we’ve seen all year. He was executing that breaking ball at will, in the zone, out of the zone. He had good life to all of his pitches. I think this is one where you tip your cap to the opposing starting pitcher.”
DeSclafani and Fried matched each other with six scoreless innings to open the game, but Atlanta broke the stalemate in the seventh. Austin Riley led off the inning with a double to right-center field that Kris Bryant couldn’t haul in, marking the third fly ball that Giants outfielders couldn't grab and resulted in an extra-base hit.
Duvall, a former Giant, then delivered the big blow by crushing a misplaced slider out to center field for his 36th home run of the year, putting the Braves ahead, 2-0, and chasing DeSclafani.
DeSclafani departed after allowing two runs on six hits over six-plus innings and was replaced by right-hander Zack Littell, who promptly gave up a first-pitch solo shot to Eddie Rosario that extended Atlanta’s lead to 3-0. Rosario also had a single, double and triple, becoming the first player to hit for the cycle against the Giants since the White Sox’s Yoán Moncada on Sept. 9, 2017.
“Today, I put our team in a losing spot, and that’s what ultimately matters right now,” DeSclafani said. “Not being able to throw up a zero just hurts. Everything is magnified, but we’re good at putting games behind us.”
DeSclafani was let down by both his offense and defense, as Bryant also couldn’t come up with Rosario’s drive to Triples Alley in the fifth, while Austin Slater narrowly missed a double off the center-field wall by Joc Pederson in the sixth.
Bryant’s bat has lived up to the billing since he came over from the Cubs at the Trade Deadline, but he’s experienced some defensive issues while juggling multiple positions for the Giants. He has committed four errors in 25 games at third base, though he’s been working with bench coach Kai Correa to get a more consistent arm action and to be more accurate with his throws.
Bryant is also confident that he’ll get more comfortable playing the outfield at Oracle Park once he gets used to its quirks and challenging conditions.
“It definitely is one of the weirdest right fields in baseball,” Bryant said. “You really have to try to pinch the gaps more so than other fields because you’re dealing with such a deep right-center. … Today, looking at those two fly balls, it’s a learning experience for me. Put your head down and run and get to a spot. I’ll be better for it next time.”
After a 4-3 homestand, the Giants now head to San Diego to begin their final road trip of the regular season against the Padres on Tuesday night. The Padres were swept by the Cardinals over the weekend, but the Giants know they can’t let their guard down with the Dodgers nipping at their heels.
“I feel like we’ve been playing great baseball, but they’ve just been matching us, and that’s annoying,” Bryant said. “It’s annoying that both of us are playing good at the same time. but hey, people expected the Dodgers to be doing that, and we just have to keep our head down and try our best not to scoreboard watch. Just focus on winning our ballgames and let the rest take care of itself.”