SAN FRANCISCO -- In keeping with the spirit of their first home series, the San Francisco Giants got runners in scoring position in both the eighth and ninth innings Sunday. None of them were able to score, though, allowing the St. Louis Cardinals to salvage a game of the series with a 6-1 victory.Freddy Sanchez had two hits for the Giants, who had a three-game winning streak come to an end. Aaron Rowand hit a two-out double in the ninth after Eli Whiteside and pinch-hitter Mark De Rosa recorded back-to-back singles with one out in the eighth. Pablo Sandoval gave the Giants an early lead, singling home Sanchez, who has hit safely in seven of nine games, in the first. Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse made it the only scoring rally of the day. "He was tough to handle up there today," Giants rookie first baseman Brandon Belt said after hitting three infield grounders against Lohse. "We couldn't work it out." Barry Zito took the loss for the Giants, allowing four runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked five and struck out one. "The ball was getting up," Zito said. "It was a timing issue with my delivery that happens sometimes when I try to do too much." David Freese singled in a run to tie the game in the second and then doubled home the go-ahead run in the sixth after Zito walked Matt Holliday and Allen Craig. "I appreciated the chance to get out of the inning myself but unfortunately I didn't get it done," Zito said. "Freese hit a pretty good pitch, a heater down and in." Freese said the Cardinals had a good approach against the left-hander. "He's going to see if you're going to swing out of the zone, and I felt like we did a decent job of waiting for something to drive," Freese said. "Whether we drove it or not, we got the ball in the right spots."
Zito fell to 1-6 with a 5.23 ERA in eight career starts against the Cardinals. The four runs allowed matched his total in the previous 20 2/3 innings against St. Louis in AT&T Park."His walks hurt him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He lost his release point a little bit. He was battling out there." The Giants may have survived the inning had center fielder Rowand made the play on Skip Schumaker's ensuing two-run double that ended Zito's afternoon. "It's a tough play, and he thought he had it, too," Bochy said. "He got his glove on it; he just couldn't hold on. The ball was hit pretty well, too." Sandoval's two-out single in the first put the Giants ahead, 1-0. After the Cardinals went up, 4-1, in the sixth, Holliday singled home a run in the seventh and Freese hit a home run in the eighth, both against Guillermo Mota, who allowed his first runs of the season. Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless ninth inning and is unscored upon in four appearances on the year. Freese hit just the fourth home run allowed by Giants pitchers, who entered the game giving up a Major League low through eight games. The Giants could not get anything going against Lohse, who retired 20 of the next 21 batters he faced following Sandoval's RBI single. "Their guy pitched well and that's where it started," Bochy said. "We saw a well-pitched game against us." The Giants, who had the chance to sweep the Cardinals for the first time since July 2001, were without starters Buster Posey, Pat Burrell and Miguel Tejada, who were all given a scheduled day off by Bochy. Nate Schierholtz, Mike Fontenot and Whiteside each made their first starts of the season.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.