Giants rough up Nolasco for season-high seven earned runs

If Sunday was any indication, California native Ricky Nolasco has worn out his welcome at AT&T Park.

Jeff Chiu/Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

The forest green seats, the iconic Coke bottle and ball and glove in left field, the picturesque bay in the background — all have been gracious toward California native Ricky Nolasco during his 10-year tenure in the majors.

If Sunday was any indication, Nolasco’s worn out his welcome at AT&T Park.

Completing a three-game, interleague sweep, the Giants roughed up Nolasco for a season-high seven earned runs on nine hits in Minnesota’s 8-1 loss at San Francisco. In six previous starts there, he’d compiled a 2.55 ERA and a 4-1 record in 42 1/3 innings pitched — tying the hefty righthander’s best win-loss mark in any away ballpark.

But Nolasco lasted just 4 2/3 frames, surrendering an RBI single and a sacrifice fly in the first and a three-run Michael Morse double in the fifth that allowed the Giants to break things open.

Giants 8, Twins 1

"It was a battle for him," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Nolasco. "It wasn’t the best performance for him."

Despite the Twins (23-24) rotation’s recent surge, Nolasco has yet to find his groove with Minnesota. Sunday’s defeat marked his third loss in his past five starts, with the other two outings going down as no decisions.

Only Kevin Correia has a worse ERA (6.52) among Twins starters.

A former Marlin and Dodger, Nolasco (2-5, 6.12 ERA) signed with Minnesota for four years and $48 million in December. It was the biggest free-agent contract in franchise history.

The return on that investment has yet to emerge.

Sunday, he gave up singles to three of National League frontrunner San Francisco’s (32-18) first four batters and put runners at second and third with a wild pitch. Pablo Sandoval drove in the first Giants run, and Morse lined a sacrifice fly to left field for the second.

After facing the minimum in the second, Nolasco yielded another run in each of the third and fourth innings, then suffered a lead-off walk and back-to-back singles to commence the fifth. Morse made him pay when he drove a slider to left field and brought home all three runners.

That forced Gardenhire to go to the bullpen.

Giants starter and 2013 All-Star Madison Bumgarner struck out 10 batters in seven innings and didn’t afford Nolasco much run support. Minnesota’s four hits — three off Bumgarner — tied its second-lowest total this season.

Much to the delight of a sellout crowd of 42,590, Morse finished the day 3-for-3 with a trio of doubles and four RBI, and Gregor Blanco and Hunter Pence also finished with three hits apiece.

"He’s unbelievable," Blanco said of Morse. "I get a chance to sit next to him every day in the locker room, so we talk every now and then, and he’s awesome."

Minnesota was swept in a three-game series for the third time and fell to 2-6 in interleague play this season.

Correia will square off against Texas’ Nick Tepesch on Monday at Target Field to commence a four-game series against the Rangers.

Photos of the Week: 5/18/14-5/24/14

Making moves: Following Sunday’s defeat, the Twins announced they’ll return outfielders Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia from Triple-A Rochester on Monday. In order to clear space for them on the roster, Chris Colabello and Chris Herrmann have been optioned to the Red Wings.

Minnesota will reinstate Willingham from the disabled list following an eight-game rehab stint in Rochester during which he went 5-for-27 from the plate. He missed 41 games with a fractured left wrist.

Arcia has hit .312 in 22 games with the Red Wings with five home runs, seven doubles and 18 RBI.

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