And once more, when Madison Bumgarner handed the reins to the bullpen after seven scoreless innings, the relief corps yielded a back-breaking go-ahead homer, this time to Tyler White. The Giants fell, 2-1, and were swept in a two-game series by the defending World Series champions on Tuesday afternoon at AT&T Park.
"It's hard to take when you get that kind of pitching, but you're playing a good team with good pitching, too, and they kept it close, and lightning hit us twice," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Both teams had their opportunities. Early on, the Giants took advantage. The Astros couldn't -- against Bumgarner, at least.
The final line for the Giants' ace shows seven strikeouts and five hits allowed in seven shutout innings, but the humble, unassuming box score doesn't tell the full story of Bumgarner's numerous escape acts throughout the afternoon.
"[Bumgarner] really did a great job of keeping them from scoring," Bochy said. "He had good stuff today, and like I said, he got far enough, and we just couldn't hold it. It's tough when you go to the eighth with a 1-0 lead and you can't win those games. Those sting, trust me."
In the second inning, Josh Reddick slashed a leadoff triple, but Bumgarner induced a pair of groundouts and struck out opposing pitcher Dallas Keuchel to escape unscathed. In the fifth, Jake Marisnick's leadoff double was squandered when Bumgarner collected a strikeout, a lineout and a flyout.
The sixth proved to be the culmination of Bumgarner's Houdini act, with a pair of Astros being thrown out at home.
White tripled to the center-field warning track on a sinking liner that rangy center fielder Steven Duggar couldn't snare on a dive, but he was nabbed by Buster Posey on Reddick's hard grounder to first. Reddick moved to third on a wild pitch and stolen base, but he was also thrown out trying to come home on a ball that trickled away from catcher Nick Hundley.
But after Bumgarner's exit, rookie Ray Black -- who hadn't allowed a hit in 10 appearances spanning 10 1/3 innings since his July 8 Major League debut -- yielded a leadoff double to Marwin Gonzalez and the go-ahead homer to White as the Astros finally broke through.
"He swung at a couple of fastballs before, and I'm thinking in my mind, 'He might be sitting on an offspeed pitch here,' and I just didn't locate my fastball in a pitcher's count," Black said. "That's on me. He tagged me for it. I tip my hat to him."
"Give them credit -- they beat two of our hottest relievers and found a way to win the games," Bochy said.
Again, it was Brandon Crawford who provided the Giants' offensive spark. After his homer off Charlie Morton on Monday accounted for San Francisco's only run, the All-Star shortstop again keyed the offense on Tuesday with a double down the left-field line leading off the second inning.
Chase d'Arnaud drove him home with a one-out RBI single to give the Giants the lead against stingy Astros lefty Keuchel, who otherwise allowed only one other hit in six effective innings, striking out five and walking two.
d'ARNAUD DAY TO DAY AFTER KNEE CONTUSION The Giants second baseman exited the game in the fourth inning with a left knee contusion after fouling an 0-1 offering from Keuchel into the area just below his left kneecap. He is considered day to day, and Bochy expects him to be fine after Wednesday's day off.
d'Arnaud was on the ground for several moments while being tended to by the training staff, and though he eventually appeared to be able to put weight on the leg and run on it, he exited the game after a lengthy discussion.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Giants can't plate insurance run: Though the Giants cashed in on their scoring threat in the second inning, they weren't able to capitalize on a tremendous opportunity to add an insurance run in the seventh -- and, as it turns out, a run that could have been pivotal.
Hanson, playing for d'Arnaud, lifted a fly ball to the right-field corner off reliever Tony Sipp that went in and out of the glove of Reddick at the wall, and he coasted into third with a leadoff triple. But Sipp induced a popout from Duggar, and Joe Smith struck out both Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen to quell the threat.
"[Pence] had been getting some big RBIs for us over the last three weeks," Bochy said. "[Smith] just got a big strikeout. We fought pretty hard up there and fouled a couple of tough pitches off, but we just couldn't put the ball in play."
HE SAID IT "I'm never going to tell you any different, whether it's the truth or not." -- Bumgarner, on whether he felt he could have pitched the eighth inning with his pitch count at 100
UP NEXT The Giants have Wednesday off before rookie left-hander Andrew Suarez opens a four-game series against the Pirates at AT&T Park on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. PT. Suarez will look to bounce back after allowing career-highs in hits (10) and earned runs (8) in a loss to the D-backs on Saturday. Pittsburgh will counter with veteran right-hander Ivan Nova, who allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings in a May 13 loss to San Francisco.