SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants saw promise from right-hander Jeff Samardzija on Saturday. The results, they realized, must wait for another time.Samardzija performed about as well as could be expected after returning from right shoulder tightness, which had sidelined him since May 29. He showed hints of the velocity and
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants saw promise from right-hander Jeff Samardzija on Saturday. The results, they realized, must wait for another time.
Samardzija performed about as well as could be expected after returning from right shoulder tightness, which had sidelined him since May 29. He showed hints of the velocity and command that distinguish him when he's at his best, though he absorbed the loss in the Giants' 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Cardinals.
Samardzija, the Giants' No. 3 starter who had dealt with the shoulder issue since Spring Training, allowed all of St. Louis' runs on seven hits in five innings. Though he totaled just three strikeouts, his fastball reached 96 mph, approaching his peak velocity.
"My timing's coming along," Samardzija said. "I wasn't looking too closely at [velocity]. I knew it was coming out good from warmups. The ball was doing what we wanted it to do."
Samardzija's return, combined with Johnny Cueto's comeback and Madison Bumgarner's reclaiming of the staff ace's role, enables the Giants to function with their top three starters and should further their efforts to return to the postseason.
"I like to think that we'll get some consistency," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
With a little luck, Samardzija (1-5) might have fared better Saturday. Left fielder Austin Slater made a diving try and nearly snared Kolten Wong's liner to lead off the third inning. Wong came around to open the scoring on what Bochy called a "cheap run," a Carlos Martinez double that bounced over third baseman Pablo Sandoval's head.
St. Louis added a pair of runs in the fourth, helped partially by an overturned call following a replay review that gave Wong a bunt single.
Meanwhile, the Giants' offense remained stagnant. They have scored 10 runs while losing five of their last six games and are batting .167 (31-for-186) during that span.
"It's going to take our big guys to get hot and swing the bat like we know they can," Bochy said.
San Francisco's offense would have been almost completely barren without Brandon Belt. The first baseman drove in a run with a sixth-inning double off starter Martinez (6-4) and added an eighth-inning RBI single against reliever Jordan Hicks, whose fastball routinely exceeded 100 mph.
"I think we're seeing a lot of really good pitchers," said Belt, who collected three of the Giants' eight hits. "Sometimes it's hard to diagnose, but we faced some guys that threw to us really well. Today was no different. It's something we're having to grind through right now. But we know what this team is capable of, and we will get through it."
Belt was asked the inevitable question: Are his teammates pressing?
"I don't get that feeling," he said. "We do need to consciously make an effort to step this up a little bit. We're getting down to crunch time. We need to make sure that we're playing good baseball. … We'll get it back for sure."
Dating back to 2017, the Giants have lost six of their last eight games to the Cardinals and have been outscored by a 48-23 margin. The Giants also dropped to 15-15 in one-run games.
HE SAID IT
"You've seen [Aroldis] Chapman, but it looks like he's taken that up just a notch. That's a big arm there. That's as big an arm as I've seen. That's got to be the biggest arm in baseball right now." -- Bochy, on flame-throwing Cardinals right-hander Hicks
Coming off a hard-luck loss in Colorado, Bumgarner takes on the Cardinals and right-hander Jack Flaherty in Sunday's 1:05 p.m. PT finale at AT&T Park. Bumgarner blanked the Rockies for six innings Monday, then allowed three consecutive singles to open the seventh, which prompted a three-run rally. Bumgarner has struggled in his last six starts against the Cardinals, posting a 1-5 mark with a 5.06 ERA.
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.