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Nunez's error, Belt's baserunning hurt cause

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Singling out a couple of lapses in a lopsided defeat, such as the 10-3 setback the Giants endured Monday night at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates, might seem like nitpicking.

But in this case, one mistake -- third baseman Eduardo Nunez's second-inning fielding error -- generated four unearned runs for Pittsburgh. And a second gaffe, Brandon Belt's hesitant fifth-inning baserunning, stunted the Giants' offense just when Pirates starter Gerrit Cole appeared vulnerable.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Singling out a couple of lapses in a lopsided defeat, such as the 10-3 setback the Giants endured Monday night at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates, might seem like nitpicking.

But in this case, one mistake -- third baseman Eduardo Nunez's second-inning fielding error -- generated four unearned runs for Pittsburgh. And a second gaffe, Brandon Belt's hesitant fifth-inning baserunning, stunted the Giants' offense just when Pirates starter Gerrit Cole appeared vulnerable.

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Matt Cain looked vulnerable while yielding a pair of first-inning runs. But he appeared to regain his equilibrium and came to the brink of a scoreless inning as the Pirates moved a runner to second base with two outs.

Out No. 3 seemed imminent as Starling Marte smacked a routine grounder to Nunez. Except Nunez simply could not grab the ball, which bounced away for his eighth error of the season, all but one as a third baseman.

Pittsburgh immediately seized the opportunity Nunez created. Josh Harrison singled in Jordy Mercer before Andrew McCutchen unloaded his 18th homer of the season.

Video: PIT@SF: McCutchen clubs three-run homer to left field

"We made an error. We're all going to make mistakes," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You just hope you overcome them, and we didn't do a very good job of that tonight."

The Giants trimmed the difference to 6-3 by the seventh inning, but missed a chance for a fruitful rally two innings earlier when Belt was thrown out at third base.

Denard Span's leadoff walk, Nunez's single and Belt's fielder's-choice grounder gave the Giants runners on the corners with one out. Up came Buster Posey, whose single to left-center field sent home Span. Instead of trying to match Span's pace, Belt edged toward second base as McCutchen fielded Posey's hit and brandished the ball for the umpires as if he had caught it. Realizing that McCutchen was faking the catch, Belt dashed for third base but was thrown out.

Bochy patiently explained the Giants' latest slip.

"These are little things that come back to get us, haunt us -- our baserunning," he said. "This past week, or really the last 10 days, we've made some outs there at third base and [Belt's play] really wasn't close. ... Just stay at second base. We have to stop compounding the damage. That helped out there because it gives them a big out and now you have a man on first instead of first and second with some pretty good hitters coming up."

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, Brandon Belt, Eduardo Nunez