Panda's jack not enough to lift Giants past Crew
Third baseman hits tying blast in 6th before 'pen allows go-ahead HR
MILWAUKEE -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy would have had to step in the batter's box or on the pitcher's mound to do more than he did to try to influence Tuesday night's outcome.
The Giants dropped a 4-3 decision to another playoff contender, the National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. Yet the mood in the Giants' clubhouse afterward was subdued, but not solemn. They knew they delivered an honest effort -- right up until the final out, when a video review overturned an umpire's call on Joe Panik's apparent infield single.
They also knew that Bochy managed aggressively -- that is, to win. The Giants moved closer to defeat with a hitless, scoreless eighth inning. But despite what the zeros might have suggested, it wasn't just another feeble shutout frame.
After Pablo Sandoval drew a one-out walk, Michael Morse pinch-hit for Gregor Blanco and drew a walk. One out later, Buster Posey batted for Juan Perez and struck out. Not only were the Giants blanked, but both of their true center fielders, Blanco and Perez, were out of the game.
Some managers would have obsessed over their defense in the bottom half of the inning and might have left Morse or Posey in the dugout. Not Bochy.
"I don't think I've ever hit for two center fielders in one inning," Bochy said. "But, you know what? We're a run down, and I'm going to put my bats up there."
Did Bochy's moves leave the Giants short of defenders in the Brewers' half of the eighth? Not really. Hunter Pence moved to center field, a position he hadn't played since 2007, and first baseman Brandon Belt shifted to right field, where he spent all of 10 2/3 innings in 2011. Posey occupied the first-base vacancy and Morse strolled to left.
As is often the case in baseball, nothing happened to make the Giants regret or salute these moves, because the Brewers didn't hit the ball out of the infield in the eighth.
But Pence, for one, liked what he saw from Bochy.
"We're all right on board," Pence said. "He's amazing at putting things together. Sometimes, we have to do things on the fly, but we needed those at-bats out of them to give us an opportunity to win. It's a lot of fun watching him manage a game. He's got a touch, and he gives you a great chance to win. All of his moves seem to make sense."
They didn't generate offense, though. That was limited to Sandoval's three-run, sixth-inning homer that tied the score.
Gerardo Parra, a non-waiver Trade Deadline acquisition for the Brewers, broke the deadlock in the seventh inning by homering off right-hander Jean Machi (6-1). That ended a streak of 22 consecutive scoreless innings recorded by San Francisco's bullpen.
Parra's homer also handed the decision to Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson (2-2), who surrendered Sandoval's homer while logging seven innings.
Giants starter Tim Lincecum struck out eight in six innings, while allowing three runs and seven hits.
Bochy couldn't do anything about the overturning of Panik's single, a chopper that second baseman Rickie Weeks double-clutched before making his throw. Had the "safe" call on Panik remained intact, the Giants would have had runners on first and second base with Belt due up.
"I just don't see how it got overturned. It was so close," Bochy said. "... But they did, and that's the game."
Bochy believed that none of the multiple replay angles definitely proved Panik was out. "You always hear that word 'conclusive,' " Bochy said.
It marked the second time this year that an overturned call concluded a Giants defeat. On May 6 at Pittsburgh, umpires overturned an initial "out" ruling when Posey tagged Starling Marte at home plate.
More drama could await. This was the first game of the season between the Giants and Brewers, who visit San Francisco Aug. 29-31. Like the Giants, if the Brewers don't win their division, they should remain in the race for a Wild Card spot. That gave this game added impact.
Bochy typically chants the mantra that each game is as essential as the next. But, he admitted:
"They're all so big now. ... Two teams playing for a lot here. They're not do-or-die games, but they're really, really important. We know that."