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Pillar shows another flash of power with homer

Baserunning mistake proves costly; Rodriguez looks sharp in start
@mi_guardado
April 10, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Seven of the Giants’ first 13 games of the season came against the Padres, but the National League West foes aren’t set to meet again until mid-June. That’s probably a bit of a relief for the Giants, who lost to the Padres for the fifth time in

SAN FRANCISCO -- Seven of the Giants’ first 13 games of the season came against the Padres, but the National League West foes aren’t set to meet again until mid-June. That’s probably a bit of a relief for the Giants, who lost to the Padres for the fifth time in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale at Oracle Park, 3-1.

The defeat secured San Francisco’s fourth consecutive series loss to start the season for the first time since 1983.

“We’re not happy with where we’re at, but you have to understand, there’s other good teams that haven’t gotten off to a great start, either,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “So you just have to remind yourself, we have a lot of baseball [left]. These core guys have to remind each other, including the young guys. We don’t put added pressure on ourselves, but we do have to pick it up to get consistent.”

Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s rubber match:

1. Pillar keeps rolling

Kevin Pillar emerged as a Padres killer this series, and he struck again with a game-tying solo home run in the fourth inning. Pillar crushed a 2-0 fastball from Padres left-hander Nick Margevicius out to left field for his second homer of the season. Pillar, who hit a grand slam in Monday’s opener and drove in four more runs on Tuesday, recorded nine RBIs against San Diego, overtaking Brandon Belt for the team lead.

Pillar and fellow newcomer Tyler Austin combined to go 6-for-19 (.316) over the last three games, lengthening the club’s lineup against left-handed pitching, but the Giants will need more production from their middle-of-the-order bats. Brandon Crawford is batting .289, but Buster Posey and Evan Longoria are off to sluggish starts, hitting .189 and .188, respectively, with one home run and three RBIs between them.

“I know it’s magnified early when guys aren’t quite swinging the bat like they normally do,” Bochy said. “I think you can look across baseball and you see quite a few guys that aren’t quite there yet, hitting what they normally would be hitting. So you try to stay encouraged that those numbers are going to get better. But it’s going to have to happen pretty soon for us. As I’ve said, our core guys are the guys that we’ll have to lean on, but really, with our new guys here, I think our lineup has more depth.”

2. Kratz’s baserunning miscue proves costly

With Buster Posey starting at first base, backup catcher Erik Kratz started behind the plate on Wednesday and was gifted a one-out double in the fifth inning after Padres left fielder Wil Myers appeared to lose his routine fly ball in the sun. Kratz advanced to third on Dereck Rodriguez’s single and then charged home on Kevin Pillar’s bouncer to third base. Kratz was initially ruled safe after Manny Machado fired a high throw to catcher Francisco Mejia, but the call was overturned following a replay review, taking the go-ahead run off the board for the Giants and keeping the game tied at 1. Had Kratz opted to slide rather than run directly into Mejia’s tag, he likely would have been safe.

“Kratz thought he was out,” Bochy said. “He was trying to actually stay in the lane and maybe get hit by the ball, so he didn’t slide.”

The play loomed large one inning later, when Machado blasted a solo home run -- his first hit of the series -- to give the Padres a 2-1 lead. San Diego later added an insurance run in the ninth on Myers’ RBI single off closer Will Smith.

3. D-Rod sharp

The Giants tapped Rodriguez to start their home opener on Friday, but he suffered the loss after allowing four runs over 5 1/3 innings. Rodriguez was more effective on Wednesday in his second start at Oracle Park, limiting the Padres to two runs over seven strong innings, but the end result was the same, as he received little support from his offense.

“That’s the thing about a team, that’s out of your control,” Rodriguez said. “You just try and hope for the best. Those guys will back you up and pick you up. It happens, that’s baseball.”

Rodriguez was also hurt by a misplay from Longoria in the third. After Luis Urias drew a one-out walk, Margevicius attempted to lay down a sacrifice to advance the runner. Margevicius ended up popping up the bunt, but Longoria bobbled the ball and missed a chance to get the force out at second base. Urias subsequently scored on Manuel Margot’s single to give the Padres a 1-0 lead.

“If you look back at the game, the little things got us,” Bochy said. “That’s the difference in the game. It was a bad bunt. I know Longo was trying to rush that a little bit. I think he knows he had him at second base.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.