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‘Inches’ loom large again as SF Giants drop sixth in a row vs. Diamondbacks

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PHOENIX — Giants manager Bob Melvin boiled down Monday’s series-opening defeat to the Diamondbacks to a “game of inches,” and something similar could be said only a night later.

Opening an early lead against Kyle Harrison, the first four Diamondbacks to bat in the third inning snuck hits through the infield that all made contact with leather on the hands of Giants’ defenders, and three of them came around to score, which after some late drama proved to be the difference in San Francisco’s sixth straight loss, 8-5.

A pinch-hit, three-run home run from Mike Yastrzemski with two outs and two strikes in the eighth inning pulled the Giants within 2 — and gave them more than three runs for only the second time in seven games — but it proved to be an insufficient answer for the four runs surrendered by Luke Jackson the inning prior.

The Giants were never able to dig out of the 3-0 hole created by the tough-luck third, though, as their season-long skid extended by another game, dropping them four games below .500 less than a week after they reached their high-water mark.

Casey Schmitt was pelted with three hard-hit balls to shortstop in the third inning and wasn’t able to corral any of them, and Arizona scored its first two runs when Kevin Newman lined another pitch off the tip of Matt Chapman’s outstretched glove and into the left field corner.

Since tossing seven shutout innings at Coors Field a month ago, Harrison has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his past five starts, raising his ERA to 4.18 from 3.20 after his May 7 start against Colorado. He punched out only five batters but traded his strikeout stuff for better efficiency, pitching beyond the fifth inning for the first time since his gem six starts ago.

That start in Colorado was also the last time any Giants pitcher not named Logan Webb completed six innings, and the nine outs taken down by Jackson and Taylor Rogers increased the bullpen’s major-league leading workload to 144⅔ innings since the start of May.

Jackson surrendered a leadoff single to Blaze Alexander, and Newman’s sacrifice bunt to advance him to second ended up being one of only two he recorded while allowing six of the eight batters he faced to reach base and four to score.

Back in the leadoff spot, Heliot Ramos reached base all of his first three times to the plate, and Chapman supplied a pair of hits — extending his on-base streak to 22 games — but the Giants regretted their missed opportunities, stranding nine men on base and went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Coming up with runners on the corners in his final two trips to the plate, Chapman wasn’t able to come through in the most critical situations, grounding out to end the fifth inning and watching a 101 mph fastball from 22-year-old rookie Justin Martinez for strike three for the final out of the seventh.

A strikeout by Schmitt and a flyout by Luis Matos wasted a bases-loaded opportunity in the second inning, and Patrick Bailey bounced into a pair of double plays that snuffed out potential rallies in the first and the third before lifting a bloop single into left field to drive home Schmitt in the fifth for the Giants’ second run.

It appeared to be a repeat of the tough-luck third, when the first batter of the fourth, Christian Walker, started the frame with a double that came so close to hooking foul that it landed on the line in left field, in play, and then advanced to third when Schmitt miffed another grounder from the next batter, Randal Grichuk.

Chapman, however, had other plans.

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