Bullpen woes not unfamiliar to Giants

Bullpen woes not unfamiliar to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants' reliever Javier Lopez succinctly expressed his despair over the Giants' 6-5 loss Tuesday night to the Cubs in Game 4, which ended the National League Division Series and their season.

Also on Lopez's mind was the end of the Giants' remarkable streak of 10 consecutive postseason victories in games when they faced possible elimination. Giants relievers, who struggled all season to establish consistency, took the end of the streak personally.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 7 CHC 1, SF 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 8 CHC 5, SF 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 SF 6, CHC, 5 (13) video
Gm 4 Oct. 11 CHC 6, SF 5 video

"I'm one of those who didn't execute tonight," Lopez said. "It's going to be tough to lay my head on the pillow."

Rookie right-hander Derek Law, who yielded Kris Bryant's single, which began Chicago's ninth-inning uprising, believed that the Giants' ability to stave off elimination would remain intact, even after the Cubs surged past them.

"Even when they scored, I thought we were still in it," Law said.

Right-hander Sergio Romo believed that if any team could end the Giants' magic, it would be the Cubs, who posted a Major League-best 103-58 record this season.

"I can't say that it's necessarily surprising," Romo said. "Those guys are solid. You can't take anything away from them. Obviously, they showed that they will never give up, either, at the end. I think we're just more in shock that it happened, how it happened, the way it happened. A tough way to end a very trying season."

San Francisco's bullpen, a trouble spot through much of the season, thus endured its final indignity after blowing 30 regular-season saves, more than any postseason qualifier since the save became an official statistic in 1969. That total included nine blown saves in which the Giants led entering the ninth inning, as well as nine blown saves in September.

So it was almost fitting that the Giants squandered saves in each of the final two games against the Cubs. Despite San Francisco's 6-5, 13-inning triumph in Monday's Game 3, Romo lost a save opportunity when he yielded Bryant's ninth-inning homer. On Tuesday, Will Smith, who had recorded 13 2/3 scoreless innings in a span of 18 appearances entering the game, absorbed both the loss and the blown save.

Law was asked what he thought when the ninth inning began, a frame that followed eight innings and 120 pitches of terrific, two-hit baseball by starter Matt Moore.

"I figured we were going to Wrigley Field," Law said, confident that the Giants would secure the three outs they needed to force Game 5.

Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, "You like to think we're going to get three outs there."

Romo's thought: "Get the job done," he said. Pondering the Cubs' comeback, which prevented that from happening, he added, "This game's incredible, man. This game is definitely incredible."

Nobody criticized manager Bruce Bochy's strategy of using a different reliever for each Cubs hitter, tailoring his pitchers' skills to suit the opponent. Lacking a legitimate closer prompted Bochy to resort to this ploy.

"He pulls the cords," Romo said. "We believe in his approach. Today it just didn't work out."

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.