Fielding miscue dooms Pirates in 5-0 loss to Giants
After the Pirates' 5-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, Ivan Nova kept talking about the baseball that got away from him.
It was a two-out comebacker to the mound by Pablo Sandoval that ricocheted off Nova's glove and dribbled toward third base, putting runners on first and second in the sixth inning.
The infield single gave the Giants life and offered hope beyond their 1-0 lead at the time.
"If I make that play, it's three outs," Nova said. "It's a comebacker I should make. I didn't make it. I paid for it."
When Brandon Crawford's double made it 2-0, Nova was pulled from the game, and Richard Rodriguez entered and surrendered a three-run homer to Nick Hundley to pump the lead to 5-0.
Nova was right. If he fields Sandoval's chopper cleanly, the inning ends and Hundley doesn't get a chance with two runners on base.
"If we put the last hitter, Hundley, away," manager Clint Hurdle said, "it's a good (stat) line. It's a representative line."
But in this case, the outcome probably would have been the same. The Pirates, who scored 42 runs during their five-game winning streak that ended Sunday, were shutout by Giants' starter Derek Holland, who entered the game 1-4 with a 5.66 earned run average.
"You're in the big leagues," Hurdle said. "Pitchers get paid, too."
Hurdle knew Holland when they were both with the Texas Rangers in 2010 when he was the Rangers' hitting coach. Hurdle said he didn't recognize Holland on Sunday.
"He's a completely different pitcher. He beat us with the kitchen sink," Hurdle said. "Any pitch, anytime, 92-80, 12 mph, and they were strikes, and the ball was around the zone."
Holland walked four batters, one intentional. In each of the four times the Pirates had runners at second base, Holland got the big outs.
"We pushed to get out there, and we couldn't come away with even hard contact in those situations," Hurdle said. "Our team has been swinging the bats pretty well. The matchup went his way when the at-bats counted."
The best news for the Pirates was Nova's recovery after allowing 17 hits and 13 runs (10 earned) in his past two starts against the Washington Nationals and Chicago White Sox.
He walked a total of four batters in those games, but Sunday he walked no one for the fifth time this season. He gave eight hits, but only four in the first five innings.
"It's kind of funny," Nova said. "The last two times, I have better feel for all my pitches than (Sunday), and (Sunday) I feel like pitched better than the last two times."
Nova was able to retire Andrew McCutchen three times on fly balls to the outfield. But McCutchen ended the weekend with three doubles and a single in three games. The single Sunday against Rodriguez in the seventh inning extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.