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Close call on bases-loaded walk helps costs Cubs in loss to Giants

By Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune –

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Garza kept his cool after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Giants, despite knowing the game turned on one pitch he believed in his heart was a strike.

Garza was sharp all day, allowing two runs on five hits over six innings while striking out six. But the Cubs’ offense failed him again and a close call on a bases-loaded walk to Aubrey Huff in the sixth ultimately did him in.

Garza was in disbelief after the 3-2 pitch to Huff was called a ball, but shrugged it off afterward.

“It’s not my call,” Garza said. “Tried to throw it for a strike, but I guess I missed a little bit and walked the guy. That one is a pain in the butt, but, oh well. Just come and get ready for Milwaukee in five days.”

Matt Cain (6-2) limited the Cubs to one run on five hits over eight innings to lead the Giants to their 11th victory in the last 16 games. With their second straight one-run loss in the series, the Cubs have lost nine consecutive road games — their longest such streak since 2006 — and are 3-14 overall since May 15.

“Once again we wasted a great outing by one of our starters,” manager Dale Sveum said.

On Turn Back the Clock Day, both teams wore uniforms from 1912, when the Giants played in New York and the Cubs were only four years removed from their last World Series championship. Garza, who came in with a 6.84 ERA in five road starts, was staked to a 1-0 lead in the fourth on David DeJesus’ home run.

He held on until the sixth, when Ryan Theriot led off with a single, Melky Cabrera dumped a blooper into left and Angel Pagan reached on a one-out infield hit to load the bases. Garza’s 3-2 pitch to Huff appeared to be right on the corner, but plate umpire Chris Conroy made the call that tied the game.

“He makes a great pitch and didn’t get the call,” Sveum said. “Obviously it turned the whole game around. A guy makes a great pitch in a big situation and doesn’t get the call. Sometimes you don’t understand it, but that’s the way it goes unfortunately. Garza did everything he could today.”

Catcher Steve Clevenger agreed it was a perfectly located pitch.

“The pitch was definitely in (the zone),” he said. “But that’s just the way the game works, but the ball was definitely in.”

Garza was clearly upset by the call, forcing Sveum to send pitching coach Chris Bosio out to calm him down. Garza then induced Joaquin Arias to hit a potential double play grounder to short, but Huff’s takeout slide of Darwin Barney at second base prevented any shot at a relay and the go-ahead run scored from third.

Javier Lopez replaced Cain in the ninth after a leadoff walk to Starlin Castro, getting DeJesus to ground into a double play. Sergio Romo retired Alfonso Soriano to end it, leaving the Cubs 4-23 when scoring four or fewer runs.

“Same old thing,” Sveum said. “It’s unbelievable how we have a tough time scoring against starting pitchers.”

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