07/09/2004 1:01 AM ET
Hermanson, Giants fall in opener
Pierzynski has four-hit night in losing effort
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- It was a remarkable offensive night for Giants catcher A.J. Pierzynski against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday at SBC Park, as he went 4-for-4 and lifted his batting average over .300 -- right where he belongs.
|Wayne Franklin reacts after giving up a home run to Alex Cintron on Thursday. (Dino Vournas/AP)
The aggressive 27-year-old veteran notoriously swings at balls high and low, inside and outside, but seemingly always makes contact, and he carries a .300-plus career mark through four seasons.
The catcher was hitting only .236 in April then roared to a .368 average in June, slowly but inevitably raising his average to .304, which is right around his usual level.
Yet there was no celebration for Pierzynski this night, despite seeing his game rise from mere matchstick flare to blazing inferno in the past two months.
"Four hits is nice, but it doesn't mean [anything] if you don't win the game," said Pierzynski following San Francisco's 8-4 loss to the D-Backs, dropping the Giants to third place in the tight National League West race, 1 1/2 games back of the leading Los Angeles Dodgers and a half-game behind San Diego.
The Giants are 3-7 in their last 10 games, while Arizona remains in last place in the division, well behind the leaders.
"I was disappointed that we couldn't hold them down enough. They kept coming back. Every time we scored, they scored, and that was the frustrating thing," said Pierzynski. "We tried, but hopefully we'll be able to do it tomorrow."
Nobody could be more frustrated then Giants starter Dustin Hermanson (3-3), who entered the contest full of confidence after carrying a 2-0 record and a 3.71 ERA over his last 10 starts, which featured a stunning eight no-decisions.
He'd pitched some excellent games recently without a win, but on Thursday, his usual accuracy was missing as he gave up nine hits and five runs over six frames.
"He battled, but he was a little off tonight and fell behind a lot," said Pierzynski. "He had pitched great for so long, but he had a bad night. It happens."
Hermanson admitted that he wasn't sharp, as he yielded the first of two homers from the D-Backs' Alex Cintron and another solo shot by Chad Tracy. Arizona also chipped away with single runs in the second, third and sixth frames.
"I tried to stop the big innings, but they just kept picking and put together a lot of little innings," he said. "You look at any lineup in the big leagues, and they can show up and beat any team any day. They might be in last place, but they're still not a bad club."
Hermanson continued, "I wasn't that far off, but it was just one of those nights where I had to battle through. You're not going to have your best stuff every night."
Manager Felipe Alou felt from the onset that it could be a long game.
"From the first pitch, I could tell he didn't have it today," he said. "He didn't have his good stuff, any of it. A lot of stuff was left over the plate that was crushed."
The crucial blow of the game was Cintron's three-run homer in the seventh off left-handed reliever Wayne Franklin.
|How Bonds was pitched|
D-Backs at Giants, July 8
|Balls (intentional):||5 (0)|
|Walks (intentional):||0 (0)|
|Hit into play:||4 (2 singles, double, flyout)|
Luis Gonzalez punched a high blooper into center field that just missed second baseman Ray Durham's oustretched glove for a double. Shea Hillenbrand was then walked intentionally.
Franklin followed by serving up a harder slider that didn't move -- except right to Cintron's bat, and then over the wall.
"The guy gets a bloop hit, then I hate intentionally walking people. It's out of your control," said Franklin. "That one bad pitch the whole night does ruin your night. It was my worst slider in the game."
Franklin said that he thought he pitched well overall, but certainly regretted the gopher ball.
"I was shocked with the walk. No offense, but I don't care if it was Babe Ruth up there. I hate intentionally walking people. Maybe the guy's hitting .360, but I'll take my chances."
The winner was Andrew Good (1-2), who pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief of Elmer Dessens. Dessens allowed the Giants to score only on a two-run homer by Edgardo Alfonzo in the fourth -- the third baseman's sixth of the season -- but lasted only four frames.
The Diamondbacks had a long rough stretch against the Giants entering the contest, losing 10 of their last 12 games at SBC Park and being swept in San Francisco in three games last May.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.