PITTSBURGH -- Another former Pirate was in the limelight for the San Francisco Giants on Saturday. Tony Watson would have preferred to stay a bit more in the shadows.The day after Andrew McCutchen returned to PNC Park in a Giants uniform to a rousing ovation, Watson similarly drew cheers from
PITTSBURGH -- Another former Pirate was in the limelight for the San Francisco Giants on Saturday. Tony Watson would have preferred to stay a bit more in the shadows.
The day after Andrew McCutchen returned to PNC Park in a Giants uniform to a rousing ovation, Watson similarly drew cheers from Pirates fans, but for different, and for him, wrong reasons.
A left-hander, Watson hit Jordy Mercer in the leg with a fastball in the eighth inning with the bases loaded to score the deciding run in San Francisco's 6-5 defeat to the Pirates on Saturday at PNC Park. It was the Giants' sixth straight loss, a season high.
"Hitting a guy to score the game-winning run, that's unacceptable," said Watson, who pitched for the Pirates from 2011-17 and was a National League All-Star in 2014. "It's frustrating for sure."
Watson and Mercer were close when they played together. Watson said he knew Mercer was looking for something outside, so he wanted to come in. He did, but a bit too far.
"I just have to execute better next time out," Watson said.
In a wild game delayed 93 minutes by rain, Josh Bell scored what proved to be the winning run. Fittingly, that was set up by an odd play. Bell led off the home half of the eighth with a double and went to third on Corey Dickerson's groundout. Francisco Cervelli was intentionally walked, and David Freese pinch-hit.
With runners on first and third, Freese hit a grounder speared by third baseman Evan Longoria, who thought he would start a double play until he saw Bell hanging around third. He went to tag Bell, but Bell did a little dance to elude the tag and got back safely. Then he scored when Mercer got hit.
After the rain delay, Giants starter Jeff Samardzija had a rough beginning, laboring through a 25-pitch first inning and giving up two runs. The Giants tied the game in the second against right-hander Chad Kuhl when Longoria led off with his eighth home run of the season and, one batter later, another ex-Pirate, Alen Hanson, hit his fourth homer.
McCutchen, again greeted warmly before each at-bat, led off the third with a double and eventually scored on Brandon Crawford's sacrifice fly for a 3-2 lead. The Giants could have had more after Hanson walked to load the bases, but Austin Jackson grounded out.
After Samardzija retired the side in order in the second, Gregory Polanco's solo homer the next inning made it 3-3. Samardzija, who failed to get past the fifth inning in four prior starts, then settled down, seemingly headed toward his best start of the season until Cervelli launched a 1-2 fastball 395 feet, per Statcast™, into the right-center-field seats for a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning.
"Two homers, two heaters up," Samardzija said.
Samardzija acknowledged he pitched better than he has, but added, "There are two ways of looking at it."
How did he look at it?
"The way it was," he said. "Five and two-thirds innings, five runs. It has to get better."
McCutchen lashed another double with one out in the seventh, advanced to third on Buster Posey's long fly ball and scored on Brandon Belt's single to cut the deficit. In the eighth, Jackson redeemed himself with a game-tying double off George Kontos that missed going out by just a few feet. That scored Hanson, who had singled. Hanson would later leave the game after tweaking his left hamstring.
With the game tied at 5, Felipe Vazquez relieved Kontos and fanned pinch-hitter Kelby Tomlinson, but Gorkys Hernandez, another pinch-hitter, walked. That left it up to McCutchen, with two on and two out -- his moment. He grounded out, ending the Giants' threat.
"We've got a lot of things going on," Longoria said. "We have to get better, top to bottom."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Longoria made a great play to spear Freese's shot in the eighth. He got the ball from his glove to start a double play but never expected to see what happened next, Bell showing some nifty moves to safely get back to the base, and eventually score the winning run.
"He just retreated," Longoria said. "I couldn't get the ball out of my glove. I was gonna throw it home. And there he is."
HE SAID IT
"You know what? It's a good ballgame. It's a hard-fought game. I'm good with that. The energy was better. They fought back. We got down early, they came right back. We had a couple of chances and got a bad break with the hit batsman." -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy
Left-hander Derek Holland, another member of the Giants' reconstituted pitching staff, will try to rebound from an uneven outing when he faces right-hander Ivan Nova (2-2, 4.84 ERA) and the Pirates on Sunday at PNC Park at 10:35 a.m. PT. Holland lasted five innings his last time out, giving up three runs on six hits in a 4-2 loss to the Phillies. Overall, he is 1-4 with a 5.66 ERA. His last road win was May 21, 2017, while pitching for the White Sox in Seattle.
Bob Cohn is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.