Giants shrug off Shark's hiccup, Belt's error

Giants shrug off Shark's hiccup, Belt's error

ATLANTA -- By losing Monday to the Atlanta Braves, 5-3, the Giants actually provided a reminder of their recent success.

They built their Major League-best 20-8 record in May with superb starting pitching. San Francisco's rotation fashioned a 1.53 ERA while the team won 15 of its previous 17 games. This time, Jeff Samardzija, who entered the game with a 1.41 ERA in five May starts, allowed all of Atlanta's runs while lasting five innings.

The Giants also have remained precise defensively, ranking second in the National League with a .989 fielding percentage as Memorial Day dawned. However, first baseman Brandon Belt mishandled Nick Markakis' third-inning grounder, leading to an unearned run.

Markakis plates Beckham

Thus, this game was largely a forgettable aberration.

"I don't think anybody's too worried about somebody having a bad game on the mound or in the field because we know we can easily turn that around," Belt said.

The Giants threatened to stage a turnaround before the game ended. Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson fumbled pinch-hitter Buster Posey's sharp grounder off the pitcher's mound, delivering a run and bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate. But Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino induced Kelby Tomlinson's game-ending groundout.

Vizcaino slams the door

The outcome, which improved Atlanta's home record to 5-21, could have been attributed to the Giants' lethargy. They arrived here at approximately 1 a.m. ET Monday, 13 hours before the scheduled first pitch, and skipped mandatory batting practice. Third baseman Matt Duffy rejected that theory.

"We got in late, but it wasn't a 4 o'clock in the morning kind of thing," said Duffy, who sustained a bruise above his left wrist when Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz hit him with a pitch in the sixth inning. "I don't want to let that be an excuse. We still have the ability to put the bat on the ball, whether we take BP or not. We've had quicker turnarounds and be OK."

Samardzija (7-3) described his performance as "puzzling," noting he wasn't quite sure what went wrong.

"There's not one particular thing that jumps out at you," he said, though he mentioned walking Foltynewicz on four pitches in the fourth inning and missing his intended location on the 1-0 cutter that Mallex Smith lined to left-center field for a bases-loaded triple in the second inning. Samardzija said he intended to pitch Smith inside, but the fateful delivery veered outside, enabling Smith to extend his arms.

"Everything isn't always ideal," Samardzija said. "So you have to find a way to overcome it and play a little better. I left a couple of pitches where they could handle them and they came back to haunt me. You can't make excuses in this game. Otherwise, there's too many to find."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.