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Giants drop rubber match, lose 6-3 to Cardinals

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The Giants renewed their losing ways on Sunday night. At least there isn't another Sunday Night game until ... oh, come on.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants scored three runs. Their starting pitcher gave up four runs and pitched just five innings. They were playing an ESPN Sunday Night game, which is scientifically proven to contain carcinogens and foul odors. Should anyone be surprised?

It was Jake Peavy against the Cardinals and Carlos Martinez, after all. Maybe there's no sense pointing fingers at anyone. The Giants knew they were coming into the hand with a six-seven suited, which meant there were dozens of permutations that could have ruined them. A couple of those permutations came up. Happens.

The Giants couldn't hit. When you rely on two-run homers from Jarrett Parker, as the saying goes, you're relying on two-run homers from Jarrett Parker. Those kinds of surprises are supposed to be the cherries on top. They're not supposed to be the only nourishment for a famished lineup.

The Giants had troubles pitching. Jake Peavy was fine through the first two turns of the order, almost making you forget that his recent renaissance was fueled by the Padres' and Braves' lineups of great shame. The Cardinals are too good to fall for the same parlor tricks and misdirection a third time through, though. That doesn't mean he's untenable or without value. It's just that for every two solid outings against a wretched team, you hope that there's a save-the-day kind of performance against the good teams.

This isn't a save-the-day kind of team, right now. That isn't a save-the-day lineup, with eight batters who will put up five, six, or seven runs and help paper over mistakes. Not with Hunter Pence out. Not with Matt Duffy scuffling. It's not a save-the-day rotation, at least not 40 percent of the time.

For May, it most certainly was a save-the-day defense. That wasn't there on Sunday. I do wonder what it have been like if Brandon Belt had speared a tough one-hopper in the sixth inning. Or if Brandon Crawford would have made the play we've been taking for granted all year, getting a double play to limit the damage. The Cardinals still would have taken the lead on Belt's play, but if the Giants could have held them to just one run, what currents do the flapping butterfly wings change after that?

The Giants didn't have a save-the-day kind of defense. Or lineup. Or starting pitcher. Everything was just a little off, and it led to a game that wasn't very inspiring. There were about five minutes of glory after Parker's confusing home run, and we'll have to make do with that.

Whatever. Getaway day. And I'm including this before leaving.

It's that or the Ishikawa home run, which seems like cheating. Watch that one a few times, though. You'll feel better. You'll see.

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Jake Peavy probably shouldn't pitch a third time through the order against a good lineup. The sabermetrics suggest that the third-time-through buggabear is real, and it's not like a 35-year-old throwing 89 is the outlier that should make you think, "HOLD ON, HE MIGHT BEAT THE ODDS." He's sort of the patron saint of the third-time-through idea.

That's not to say it isn't tough to pull him in that spot. Peavy had a low pitch count and five innings of mostly stellar work behind him. You take that guy out, person high on hindsight dust? For, what, two innings of Chris Stratton? Do you really? It's so very easy in retrospect.

We have the evidence now, though, and it suggests that Peavy can mess with Padres and Braves a third time through the order, but not the Cardinals. Not the Cardinals.

That isn't to say that he's without value. You'll take a six-seven suited in most situations. Someone who can flummox bad lineups and teeter a little against the good ones is probably a good employee to have on retainer, even if they come with three or four automatic bullpen innings.

I'm still willing to entertain the idea of a second-half Peavy renaissance filled with utilitarian glee, just like we've enjoyed in each of the last two seasons. Part of that bargain are games like this. They're not fun. Nope. Not fun at all.

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If Matt Holliday isn't playing Brandon Belt like he hit like Nori Aoki, maybe the Giants win. That was the most obnoxious hard-hit out of a road trip filled with them.

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The GIants tripped and looked stupid, and ESPN was right there on the scene to capture it all.

That's a metaphor for the game, everyone. Warriors win. Good night.