SAN DIEGO — Somehow, the Giants are making last year’s second half look like a warm-up act.
After Brandon Belt hit a go-ahead grand slam, the pitching staff once again failed to hold on. The eighth blown lead in five games resulted in a 7-6 loss to the young Padres. The Giants dropped to 1-4 on their season-opening road trip, one that was not supposed to be particularly difficult.
Matt Cain barely held Ty Blach off for the final rotation spot during the spring. His season got off to a brutal start when Manny Margot, the Padres’ young leadoff hitter, blasted a solo shot to left. Margot hit another homer — the second of his career — in the third, and the Padres added another run in the frame.
For most of the first five innings, this game was as lifeless as last season’s second half. It nearly got out of hand in the bottom of the fifth when two singles and a walk were followed by an error by Eduardo Nunez. Cory Gearrin got Cain out of the jam, and within a few minutes, Belt got him off the hook for a loss.
Pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie led off the top of the sixth with a single and Joe Panik doubled. After a walk of Aaron Hill, Belt jumped on a poor offering from Luis Perdomo, who had dominated early with a mid 90s sinker. A breaking ball hung at the knees and Belt blasted it to right-center.
The Giants had their bullpen set up, but George Kontos couldn’t hold the lead. A leadoff walk and single up the middle put two on for Yangervis Solarte, who lined a first-pitch cutter into the right-center gap to put San Diego back on top.
They added an insurance run when Austin Hedges put down a perfect safety squeeze bunt, but Belt wiped that one off the board with a solo shot in the top of the eighth. The multi-homer game was the fourth of his career.
Starting pitching report: Cain was charged with six hits and four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. He walked three, struck out three, gave up two homers and threw a wild pitch. Most concerning: Pretty much a complete lack of swings-and-misses from the better hitters in the Padres’ lineup.
Bullpen report: Kontos had been Bruce Bochy’s best reliever late in the spring and he was sharp at Chase Field. On Friday, he gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning.
At the plate: Belt is now tied with Yasiel Puig for the league lead in homers (3).
In the field: Cain had some defensive issues behind him, but he owes Jarrett Parker a drink. The young outfielder made a running catch in the right field corner to save two runs in the second.
Attendance: This was not an AT&T Park South situation, which is rare here. Maybe Saturday?
Up next: Madison Bumgarner will try to get back on top of the MLB home run leaderboard. He’ll take on Jhoulys Chacin, who once gave up a homer to Madison Bumgarner.