SAN FRANCISCO -- Discriminating members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America who will cast National League Rookie of the Year ballots shouldn't be fooled by the decision that Dereck Rodriguez absorbed in the Giants' 4-1 loss Monday night to the Atlanta Braves.Rodriguez (6-3) surrendered two of Atlanta's runs as
SAN FRANCISCO -- Discriminating members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America who will cast National League Rookie of the Year ballots shouldn't be fooled by the decision that Dereck Rodriguez absorbed in the Giants' 4-1 loss Monday night to the Atlanta Braves.
Rodriguez (6-3) surrendered two of Atlanta's runs as the Giants' losing streak reached nine games. But he pitched capably, surrendering five hits in 6 1/3 innings to record his 13th quality start in 16 outings.
Though Atlanta left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and Washington outfielder Juan Soto are likely to dominate the balloting, Rodriguez and his 2.35 ERA, which leads all NL rookies, should receive some attention.
Rodriguez isn't dwelling on his Rookie of the Year chances.
"I'm just trying to go out there and put on a good performance, regardless of what everybody else is doing," he said.
But he did relish his confrontations with Acuna, who entered Monday leading the NL in runs and home runs since the All-Star break. Rodriguez held him hitless in two at-bats and walked him once in an 0-for-4 evening. Knowing Acuna would try to stun him immediately, Rodriguez made sure his first pitch of the game had a wrinkle in it. He threw a cutter that Acuna grounded to third base.
"I've faced Acuna in the past, in the Minors," Rodriguez said. "It's been a pretty good matchup."
It's usually a good matchup for the Giants no matter who Rodriguez faces.
"Rodriguez was really good," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "The guys were having a hard time seeing against him. He changes speeds well, he changes off his fastball. He screwed everybody's timing up. That's the big thing. Guys were talking about they were having a hard time getting anything going against him."
Rodriguez owns a 1.74 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) against teams with records of .500 or above, including the NL East-leading Braves. He logged his 13th start of the season in which he has pitched at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs. According to Stats LLC, the only two pitchers since 1913 to have lasted at least six innings while allowing two runs or fewer in at least 13 of their first 16 career starts are Rodriguez and the Expos' Steve Rogers. The last Giants pitcher -- and only other since 1913 -- with 13 such starts in his first 16 starts in a season was Hall of Famer Juan Marichal in 1965.
The go-ahead run that Rodriguez yielded in the seventh inning happened to be unearned. With the score tied, 1-1, Atlanta's Ozzie Albies stretched a single into a double by taking a wide turn around first base and drawing an overthrow past first base from Giants center fielder Gorkys Hernandez. The error moved Albies to third, from where he scored on Dansby Swanson's sacrifice fly.
Albies was at it again in the ninth inning, tripling home a run and scoring to pad Atlanta's lead.
This was more than enough offense to subdue the Giants, who mustered three hits.
The Giants manufactured a third-inning run to open the scoring against Braves starter Sean Newcomb. Hernandez blooped a single to right-center field, advanced on Rodriguez's sacrifice bunt and scored on Austin Slater's single, a high bouncer over third base.
Atlanta pulled even in the fourth following Freddie Freeman's leadoff single. He moved to third base on a wild pitch and an infield out before scoring on Kurt Suzuki's two-out single.
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Giants manager Bruce Bochy praised Albies' baserunning in the tiebreaking seventh.
"He's so athletic," Bochy said. "We wouldn't have had a shot at him at second base.It was a little too aggressive on Gorky's part."
With quality starts in 13 of his 16 outings, Rodriguez's quality-start percentage is 81.25. Only Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom (85.7 percent) and Washington ace Max Scherzer (86.7 percent) have better quality-start percentages.
Andrew Suarez will attempt to keep improving upon his productive rookie season Tuesday night beginning at 7:15 PT when he confronts the Braves. The left-hander received the decision in a 5 1/3-inning outing at Atlanta on May 6 as the Giants prevailed, 4-3. Suarez has 118 strikeouts, tied for seventh on the franchise's all-time San Francisco-era list for rookies, behind John Montefusco (215, 1975), Player Page for Matt Cain (179, 2006), John D'Acquisto (167, 1974), Timothy Lincecum (150, 2007), Chris Heston (141, 2015) and Pete Falcone (131, 1975). John Burkett also struck out 118 in 1990. Suarez will oppose Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.