Bullpen collapse wastes Giants comeback


AT&T PARK — Seagulls swarmed like vultures over AT&T Park Saturday night, looking to scoop up the remains of struggling Giants closer Sergio Romo.

The San Francisco bullpen completely unraveled again and gave the game away in the 11th inning to give the Cincinnati Reds a 7-3 win in Game 3 of the four-game series.

The nightmare 11th began with a leadoff double from Joey Votto and completely got away from relievers Javier Lopez (L, 1-1, 3.31 ERA) and Jean Machi.

The Reds pummeled the two pitchers for four hits and five runs in the inning. The fuse from the implosion was lit two innings earlier.

These days, you never know what’s going to happen when Romo trots out to the mound in the ninth. He blew his fifth save of the season Saturday night.

The erratic Giants closer began the ninth with a 1-0 lead. Then Romo walked Votto and promptly gave up a two-run blast to Brandon Phillips to make it 2-1 Reds.

The home run was Phillips’ second of the series and seventh overall. Romo threw six pitches in the at-bat to Phillips. All were sliders.

Romo suggested that might have been the explanation behind Phillips’ long ball:

“When you become predictable, they’re able to eliminate certain things and it gives them a better chance. I got to come back and be smarter… I’m getting there. If you’re going to get beat, you’re going to get beat with your best pitch.”

Manager Bruce Bochy skirted the inevitable question about Romo’s closing role after the game:

“I’m not going to answer that now. That’s something I’m sure we’ll talk about here tomorrow.”

Romo said he was “legitimately one pitch away” from eluding the inning with a save.

He got out of the inning on two fly balls to left field that were both caught on the warning track by Juan Perez.

The Giants battled back in the bottom of the ninth with a Hunter Pence single and a Pablo Sandoval walk. Then Buster Posey pulled a 101-mph Aroldis Chapman fastball to left field for a double to tie the game 2-2.

With no outs and runners on second and third, Hector Sanchez and pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias spoiled the inning. The two consecutively grounded out to shortstop to strand Posey and Sandoval in scoring position before Adam Duvall struck out to end the inning.

Lost in the epic bullpen collapse was Matt Cain‘s quality start. After a couple bad outings, he came out and scattered six hits over seven innings, surrendering no runs.

The loss stung a bit for Cain, who is searching for his second win of the season, but he said these situations are inescapable over 162 games:

“It’s a long season. It’s going to happen. I think that’s going to show what kind of team we have.”

The Giants opened up the scoring in the fifth when Brandon Crawford sprayed a single to shallow left.

Duvall followed it up with a laser that zipped past Ryan Ludwick and rattled up against the Chevron sign in left field for a double to put runners on second and third with one out.

Joe Panik stepped up to plate Crawford with an RBI ground out to make it 1-0.

Jonathan Broxton (W, 4-0, 0.68 ERA) pitched a scoreless 10th to pick up the win.

The Giants will try and salvage the series Sunday afternoon as Tim Hudson (7-4, 2.62 ERA) will take on righty Homer Bailey (7-4, 4.80 ERA). Game time is 1:05 p.m.


Sergio Romo has surrendered six home runs this season, which matches his career high from 2010. … The Giants have lost 11 of their last 13 games at AT&T Park and 14 of their last 18 overall. … Brandon Belt DH’ed for Triple-A Fresno tonight and went 3-for-4 with two doubles and the game-winning RBI.

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