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Giants can't capitalize on Holland's strong start

Right-hander strikes out eight in 6 1/3 innings, getting tagged for one run
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Forget for a moment that the Giants collected just three hits Tuesday night and lost to the Chicago Cubs, 2-0. Such performances will remain commonplace for such an erratic offense.

Derek Holland's effort certainly was more inspiring than anything San Francisco's hitters did, besides being more intriguing. The left-hander excelled in his first start since July 1, yielding one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked none and matched a season high with eight strikeouts, reflecting his uncanny command.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Forget for a moment that the Giants collected just three hits Tuesday night and lost to the Chicago Cubs, 2-0. Such performances will remain commonplace for such an erratic offense.

Derek Holland's effort certainly was more inspiring than anything San Francisco's hitters did, besides being more intriguing. The left-hander excelled in his first start since July 1, yielding one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked none and matched a season high with eight strikeouts, reflecting his uncanny command.

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Pitching such as this should not be wasted. Thus, the Giants have a decision to make regarding Holland as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches.

Do they keep him around as a long reliever? Should they use him as they did against the Cubs -- as a spot starter to keep the existing starters fresh? Or should the Giants shop him before the deadline to pitching-starved clubs needing help at the back end of their rotation?

"We'll talk about it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, referring solely to options that involve Holland remaining with San Francisco. Bochy did add, though, "The way he has thrown the ball, he has value."

Video: CHC@SF: Holland retires the side, fans Baez in 1st

Meanwhile, Holland is ready to do whatever the Giants ask.

"You're not going to hear me complain," he said. "Whatever they call me to do, I'm going to do it. If I have to go back to the 'pen, I'll be perfectly fine with it."

Holland blanked the Cubs until the seventh, when they scored their only runs. Addison Russell lined a one-out double that chased Holland, then broke for third base. Dyson's pitch happened to be wild. Catcher Nick Hundley unleashed an off-target throw that resulted in an error, enabling Russell to score.Victor Caratini's RBI double essentially settled matters.

Video: CHC@SF: Russell scores on a wild pitch, error in 7th 

"I thought Holland was really good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I know he hasn't been starting a lot, but he was sharp. He had a better than his average fastball. He's normally 91 to 93 [mph]; I saw a lot of 94s. His breaking ball had a lot of depth also, and his changeup. He pitched really well."

The Giants stirred briefly against Cubs starter Jose Quintana in the fourth inning, which began with Brandon Belt singling and Andrew McCutchen drawing a walk. Quintana escaped by inducing Hundley's double-play bouncer and Brandon Crawford's groundout.

The game's most encouraging development for the Giants was Ray Black's scoreless ninth inning. The rookie right-hander, who has overcome a series of injuries that would fill a medical textbook, pitched a perfect inning. Black overpowered some of Chicago's top hitters, striking out Willson Contreras and Russell before coaxing Kyle Schwarber's pop-up.

This contrasted with Black's Major League debut on Sunday, when he learned the limitations of his 100 mph fastball as St. Louis' Matt Carpenter clobbered a three-run homer off him.

"First time in the stadium, looking up and seeing all the fans, I got a little bit overwhelmed," Black said. "Tonight I was able to control my emotions a little better."

SOUND SMART
This was the first shutout defeat the Giants have absorbed at home in 2018.

HE SAID IT
"We might have to do something. He's in second place, right? … I'm going to make sure I get plenty of baby oil." -- Holland, who portrayed a wrestler in a video released Monday that promoted Belt's candidacy in the Camping World All-Star Game Final Vote competition. The baby oil is for making Holland's muscles glisten

UP NEXT
Johnny Cueto, making his second appearance since returning from a sprained left ankle, will pitch on one extra day's rest as he starts Wednesday's 12:45 p.m. PT finale vs. the Cubs. Cueto owns a 41-30 record with a 3.34 ERA on five days' rest during his career. The right-hander will be opposed by Cubs left-hander Mike Montgomery, who'll make his 10th start of the season and 28th appearance.

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.

San Francisco Giants, Derek Holland