SF Giants’ offense stalls out vs. Cardinals, as does 6-game win streak

ST. LOUIS — Misplays, miscues and missed opportunities wasted another strong outing from the newest member of the San Francisco Giants’ starting rotation and put a halt to their season-best six-game win streak.

After his last start, Giants manager Gabe Kapler declared Jakob Junis a member of San Francisco’s rotation. On a warm Saturday afternoon, he pitched like someone deserving of a spot but didn’t get the backing to extend San Francisco’s win streak to seven.

Junis limited the Cardinals to two runs over 5⅔ innings, but St. Louis tacked on two more in the seventh when Austin Slater battled the sun and lost, allowing a routine fly ball — what would have been the third out of the inning — to drop. That was four too many runs for a listless Giants lineup to overcome in a 4-0 loss.

San Francisco had been averaging more than eight runs per game during its six-game win streak but couldn’t push a single run across the plate Saturday, despite putting runners on base in all but one inning and in scoring position four times. San Francisco left nine runners on base and was shut out for the second time this season.

Junis, a free-agent acquisition who broke camp with Triple-A Sacramento, has been a revelation in four lengthy appearances since joining the big club. He reworked his repertoire to prioritize his slider, which was on display again Saturday against the Cardinals.

With two earned runs on six hits over 5⅔ innings, Junis’ ERA in four appearances (two starts) stands at 1.74, the lowest mark of anyone on staff who has pitched as many innings as Junis (20⅓).

ST LOUIS, MO – MAY 14: Jakob Junis #34 of the San Francisco Giants delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on May 14, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) 

Between Brendan Donovan’s RBI double that got St. Louis on the board in the second inning and Tommy Edman’s home run into the Cardinals’ bullpen that made it 2-0, Junis retired nine straight batters. It wasn’t until St. Louis strung together back-to-back base hits with two outs in the sixth that Kapler turned to his bullpen, bringing in former Cardinal John Brebbia to retire the final out of the inning.

It was Brebbia on the mound in the seventh when Slater allowed Paul Goldschmidt’s two-out fly ball to fall to the grass. Nolan Arenado followed with a double to left field that brought home Goldschmidt and made it 4-0.

The Giants had no shortage of scoring opportunities but couldn’t capitalize on any of them.

Donovan Walton, who was acquired in a trade this week with Seattle, acted as the end of two innings but also kickstarted another rally. He watched three strikes go by after Luis Gonzalez’s two-out double in the second, then grounded out to end the fourth after Gonzalez reached on a walk.

With one out in the sixth, Walton poked a hustle double down the left-field line for his first hit with the Giants and made it to third base as San Francisco loaded the bases for Brandon Belt. Belt saw five pitches, none more than a borderline strike, but swung at a 3-1 offering and grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Joey Bart led off the fifth by taking a 1-0 sinker the other way for a single. He made it all the way to third, with cleanup hitter Mike Yastrzemski at the plate, but Joc Pederson took off from first and got caught between the bags while Bart remained stationary on third base.

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Pederson reached base three times, on a walk and a pair of fielder’s choices, but is now 1-for-27 since being sidelined by a mild groin strain. Bart, who had 24 strikeouts and only four hits in his past 42 at-bats entering Saturday, reached base twice, with the fourth-inning single and a walk in the seventh; it was his first time in six games and only his fourth time all season without striking out.

Belt extended his hitting streak to four games — and has reached base in all five of his games since returning from the COVID IL — but both his singles Saturday came without runners on base. With LaMonte Wade Jr. on second base in the third, Belt popped out. And with the bases loaded in the seventh, he grounded into the inning-ending double play.

Belt has grounded into three double plays the past two games, though his two in Friday night’s win were far less consequential. Belt and Brandon Crawford have each been doubled up six times this season, tied for the third-most in the National League.

San Francisco and St. Louis have split the six games they have played this season. With one more on deck, the Giants send left-hander Carlos Rodon (4-1, 1.80) to the mound for Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN, 4:08 p.m.) in the rubber match.

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