Crawford's blast powers Giants to win
The Milwaukee Brewers’ remarkable run of home victories ended in an unlikely fashion, with Shaun Marcum giving up a grand slam to a player making his big league debut.
The Brewers’ next order of business: Shake it off and start a new streak.
“It’s a good run,” Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder said. “We just have to start another one.”
Brandon Crawford hit a go-ahead grand slam in his first game as a major leaguer, helping Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants beat the Brewers 5-4 on Friday night.
“We didn’t know much about him,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Crawford. “First-pitch curveball, most guys would take that pitch. He’s swinging and we put it in a spot where he got the good part of the bat on it.”
Coming into Friday night’s series opener against San Francisco, the Brewers had won nine straight at home and were coming off consecutive series sweeps.
A 10th straight home win would have tied a franchise record.
And while the Giants are the reigning World Series champions, they looked somewhat vulnerable coming into the series, struggling on offense and still dealing with the loss of catcher Buster Posey to a likely season-ending injury.
Things looked even better for the Brewers when Rickie Weeks hit a two-run homer off Lincecum in the third inning. Marcum, the Brewers’ best starter this season, cruised through the first five innings.
The Giants finally got to him in the sixth when Freddy Sanchez singled home a run. Marcum showed his first signs of struggling, uncorking two wild pitches.
A fan sitting in the front row near home plate then earned the crowd’s ire when he appeared to interfere with what could have been an inning-ending foul popup. The fan was off the hook after Marcum got Pat Burrell to fly out.
But Marcum got in trouble again in the seventh, loading the bases.
Making his major league debut with a start at shortstop, Crafword came to the plate with the Giants trailing by two runs. He pounded a pitch from Marcum over the fence, giving the Giants a 5-3 lead with his first hit as a major leaguer.
Marcum (6-2) said he was way off on his location, a mistake that Crawford pounced on.
“I fell behind, walked some guys, and the pitch to Crawford was supposed to be down and away,” Marcum said. “It came middle, down in and that’s what you’re supposed to do with mistake pitches. He did a good job.
“We battled,” Marcum said. “And we’ll come out tomorrow ready to play again.”
Nyjer Morgan had a single and a double in his return from injury.
With the Brewers trying to rally in the eighth, Giants catcher Eli Whiteside absorbed a big hit from Fielder. It was reminiscent of the play that caused a serious injury to Posey on Wednesday, but Whiteside held on to end the inning and preserve the lead.
“You don’t have any choice but to try to knock the ball loose,” Fielder said. “But they made a great play.”
Bochy stood by his assertion that baseball needs to make a rule to protect vulnerable catchers, but said Whiteside at least had time to catch the ball and brace for Fielder to run into him.
“It’s a little different,” Bochy said. “He had the ball, so he could set up a little bit. A catcher’s got a better chance than when he’s in the process of trying to catch a ball. That’s when he’s really vulnerable. Still, it’s a big guy bearing down on you. ‘Whitey’ did a great job.”
NOTES: Giants general manager Brian Sabean said before the game that he wants baseball officials to consider rules changes to protect catchers at home plate. ''It's simple: You have to slide into other bases. Why shouldn't you have to slide into home plate?,'' Sabean said. ... Brewers LHP Dan Merklinger cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Double-A Huntsville. OF Brandon Boggs accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Nashville.