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Giants tumble out of Wild Card lead with shutout loss

Cardinals prospect Alex Reyes had a reputation before taking the mound at AT&T Park: he held the Chicago Cubs scoreless in seven innings over two starts and hoisted a mere 1.29 ERA overall.

That’s not what the Giants wanted to see.

Reyes (W, 3-1, 1.03 ERA) showed them everything: an upper-90s fastball and an un-hittable curveball and changeup. He tossed seven innings of scoreless ball, leading the Cardinals to a 3-0 win Sunday that was essentially in the bag once it became apparent that the Giants couldn’t get a read, said Brandon Crawford:

“We just couldn’t square up on it.”

The Giants offense has fallen into that trap before; they struggle to adjust against unfamiliar faces. The Giants couldn’t overcome the lead Reyes built even when it got to the bullpen and fell to 0-for-58 when trailing after eight innings.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

Reyes’ throne was jeopardized once, in the sixth inning, when Crawford reached on an infield hit and Reyes chucked an insane error beyond first base to advance Denard Span and Crawford into scoring position.

But Hunter Pence struck out — he snapped his 11-game hit streak — and Eduardo Nuñez flied out on the first pitch to end the Giants’ only real threat.

San Francisco went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and couldn’t take advantage of a prime home-run hitting day.

The Cardinals sure did.

Albert Suarez‘s role with the Giants has been up and down this season, but as a late fill-in fifth starter, he’s been surprisingly solid.

He’s given up more than three runs only once in all 21 of his appearances as a Giant, and Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Cardinals was no exception. Suarez (L, 3-4, 4.16 ERA) got his team through five sterling innings, said Bruce Bochy:

“he’s been pretty consistent when he gets his starts.”

That’s what this off-and-on offense needs every day, but one mistake breaking ball proved to be the difference.  Aledmys Diaz hammered it on the first pitch for two-run bomb in the third inning.

The Cardinals desperately need a series split, at least, and now they remain a game back of the Giants and two back of the Mets in the Wild Card race.

Batting practice is on for Monday night in Los Angeles, with aces Madison Bumgarner (14-9, 2.66 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (11-3, 1.81 ERA) scheduled to duel at Chavez Ravine. Bochy said there will be some lineup changes, given the opposing lefty.

Buster Posey got a much-needed day off Sunday, so he will be fresh for the Dodgers series. It may behoove him to put someone like Gorkys Hernandez or Mac Williamson in left field in place of Angel Pagan. That kind of move could boost the Giants defense and, perhaps, the offense.

It may be time for a shakeup in the leadoff spot, too. Nuñez may be a good fit — he’s hitting .481 with a .591 OBP over the last seven games and has a couple stolen bases under his belt.

The Dodgers have struggled against lefties of late — they’re hitting a dismal .212 against them — though they had success with Bumgarner in his last start at Dodger Stadium. Matt Moore, who was one out away from no-hitting them, is also slated to start against Kenta Maeda.

Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at for full coverage of Giants baseball.

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