SAN FRANCISCO -- Reality interfered with the Giants' fondest fantasy Tuesday night.A fabulous story seemed destined to unfold. Buster Posey batted in the eighth inning with the bases loaded, one out and the Giants trailing the Miami Marlins by one run. Surely, Posey would deliver the hit that not only would win the game but also subdue the opponents San Francisco faced last May 25 when he sustained multiple left leg injuries in a home-plate collision. A measure of revenge would be exacted, though Posey has repeated that facing Miami has no special significance. The scene developed quite differently. Facing reliever Edward Mujica, Posey smacked an inning-ending, rally-killing double-play grounder and a 2-1 loss to the Marlins was virtually sealed. In a sense, the Giants outdid Miami. They showed one of baseball's least productive offenses that they could exceed its futility at the plate. Ranked next-to-last in the National League in runs and on-base percentage entering the game, the Marlins mustered six hits in eight innings against Matt Cain (1-2), who faltered only briefly. Hanley Ramirez's fourth-inning RBI single ended Cain's streak of 21 consecutive scoreless innings at home. Giancarlo Stanton, who homered once in 74 previous at-bats this season after belting 34 homers last year, christened the fifth inning with a line drive that cleared the left-field barrier. But the Giants wasted four doubles and stranded runners on third base in the third, fourth, fifth and eighth innings, though those men didn't advance that far until two were out in the first three instances. San Francisco finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, dropping their season average in those situations to .193 (41-for-212). Many observers thought the Giants had a fifth double when Ryan Theriot smacked a grounder up the right-field line off Marlins closer Heath Bell with two outs in the ninth inning. But umpire Jerry Meals definitively and quickly ruled the ball foul. Bell, who entered the game with a dreadful 10.80 ERA, recovered to retire Theriot on a routine grounder. "I thought it was fair," Theriot said of his would-be hit. "But nobody's perfect. That's part of the game. These guys [umpires] are doing the best they can and they really do a great job for us."
Ultimately, the fateful eighth haunted the Giants most."You can't ask for a better situation," Bochy said. "But hopefully this does not get inside their head and they still want to be the guy up there." Posey, the 25-year-old with a 10-year veteran's demeanor, graciously praised Mujica for throwing him "a pretty good pitch away." Posey also said, "Ideally, in that situation the last thing you want to do is put the ball on the ground. Unfortunately, that's what happened. For me, I'm just looking to try to stay in the middle of the field and put the ball in the air." Cain, who has absorbed a disturbingly high number of defeats such as this, maintained faith in his teammates.
"That's one of those situations where more times than not, we're going to get some runs," Cain said. "If those guys keep getting those chances, it's going to be fun."Theriot suggested that the Giants might be too aware of Cain's history of hard-luck losses.
"I've been on the other end of it quite a bit, actually," Theriot said. "It's almost like you press a little bit harder to try to get him some runs because he's pitching his butt off."The Giants had to confront Miami's Ricky Nolasco (3-0), who's 5-2 in seven career starts against them. The right-hander lasted 7 1/3 innings and surrendered seven hits, including Pablo Sandoval's sixth-inning homer. Nolasco's career 1.56 ERA against San Francisco is the second-lowest among pitchers with at least six starts against the Giants, eclipsed only by Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw (1.25). Moreover, Nolasco is 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in four outings at AT&T Park. His excellence by the shores of McCovey Cove did not escape Cain. "I knew I was going to have to go out there and try to battle with him," Cain said. "I made a couple of more mistakes than he did." Nolasco reciprocated Cain's respect.
"The guy just signed for a gazillion dollars," Nolasco said. "Everybody knows he's good. He's one of the best right-handers in the game, obviously. For us to be able to score some runs and beat him was a big plus."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.