Indians, McAllister can't hold back Giants
Starter takes first loss after two-run single eludes Kipnis
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jason Kipnis was planning on diving for the ball from the start. That plan changed as the Indians second baseman closed in on the sharply hit ground ball that Hunter Pence sent his way in the fifth inning Saturday afternoon.
Kipnis sprinted to his left, bent down, reached and watched helplessly as the baseball rolled just under his glove and into right field. The AT&T Park crowd roared with delight as two runs scored, spoiling what had been a solid outing from Indians starter Zach McAllister and sending Cleveland on its way to a 5-3 loss to the Giants.
"It cost us pretty much the game and it cost McAllister a good start," Kipnis said. "I could've bailed him out of that inning. It just didn't happen. I don't think he cares to hear that. I don't think he needs to hear that. No one really needs to hear anything. It's just a play that needs to be made."
The missed grounder served as the coup de grace in a four-run outburst in the fifth inning that effectively knocked the Indians to a second straight loss to open this six-game swing through San Francisco and Anaheim. Cleveland appeared in control for the first four frames, chasing Giants starter Tim Lincecum from the game and receiving another solid effort early on from McAllister.
The top of the Tribe's order -- Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Kipnis -- were carrying the offensive load, doing their part in getting to San Francisco's bullpen before the end of the fifth inning. Working with a slim lead, McAllister sliced his way through the Giants' lineup, retiring 12 in a row at one point between the first and fourth innings.
In the fifth, things came undone for Cleveland (11-13).
"We had a chance to get one today," McAllister said. "And it would have been nice for me to get out there and get through the fifth and give us an even better chance. But I wasn't able to do that. It's part of the game. If we win this next game and this next series, then it'll be a good road trip. It's still early."
Against Lincecum, Bourn doubled and later scored on a single from Kipnis in the first inning. Swisher led off with a double and then scored on a groundout from Kipnis in the third. Two frames later, Bourn came through with a base hit and scored from first base on another double off the bat of Swisher, whose second two-base hit caromed off the wall in right field.
Lincecum was gone after 98 pitches and 4 2/3 innings, while McAllister stood at 42 pitches through four.
"Early on, his fastball had so much life to it and he was commanding it," Indians manager Terry Francona said of McAllister. "He just didn't command it as well in the fifth. He wasn't missing by a lot."
Michael Morse ignited San Francisco's rally with a leadoff single up the middle, ending McAllister's run through a dozen batters without a hit relinquished. Brandon Crawford later delivered a one-out single and McAllister followed with a free pass to Brandon Hicks to load the bases, prompting a mound visit from pitching coach Mickey Callaway.
The brief chat did little to halt the Giants' rally.
Pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco sent a pitch from McAllister into right for a single that trimmed the Tribe's lead to 3-1. Angel Pagan followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to account for San Francisco's second run. Blanco then stole second base, setting up a game-changing at-bat by Pence.
"I thought I made some pretty good pitches and they went the opposite way," McAllister said. "It happens. You have to deal with that and be able to execute the next pitch, and I couldn't do that."
Pence drove a 1-2 pitch to the right side of the infield, where Kipnis ran to track down the grounder.
The baseball eluded his grasp.
"I was planning on diving the whole time until I kind of gained ground on it," Kipnis said. "I caught up to it and thought I could reach it. It kind of caught me in between steps and it's one of those ones where you just don't know if you can bend down, slide or dive. I went for the reach and it scooted under my glove."
Two runs scored on the play, putting the Giants ahead for good, 4-3.
"That's definitely tough," McAllister said, "when you're out there in that situation, as far as the timing, with another run being able to score. But at the same time, it's part of the game. It's not like [Kipnis] didn't try to go get to it. It's just one of those things where it was the right spot for [Pence]."
San Francisco (14-10) padded its lead by a run in the sixth inning, when Buster Posey crushed a 3-2 pitch from Tribe reliever C.C. Lee into the left-field seats for a leadoff home run. It marked the fifth blast of the season for the Giants catcher.
McAllister (3-1, 3.14 ERA) was subsequently saddled with his first loss of the season after being charged with four runs on five hits in five innings, during which he had six strikeouts and one walk. The big righty had posted a 1.37 ERA in 19 2/3 innings over his previous three outings.
"He's been our best starter so far," Kipnis said. "Probably the last three starts for him, he's been kind of our go-to guy when we need a big win. He started off the game real nice again and was cruising for a while. And then he kind of started to leave some pitches up, but not getting to that ball cost him another quality start."