Giants lose to Brewers in seesaw game

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MILWAUKEE — When Austin Slater lined a pinch-hit, go-ahead double into the left-center-field gap in the seventh inning at Miller Park, it all looked so promising for the Giants.

When reliever Sam Dyson coughed up an eighth-inning lead and allowed three earned runs, it all looked quite ominous for the visitors from San Francisco.

By the time the Giants finally lost 5-4 on a walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the ninth from Brewers pinch-hitter Ben Gamel, the various twists and turns the game had made stomachs flip in both dugouts.

After Slater came off the bench to push the Giants ahead 2-1 in the top of the seventh inning, Dyson allowed four consecutive hits including three straight doubles to open the eighth against the Brewers.

Since June 1, Dyson had posted a 1.13 ERA in his last 16 innings, but a rare hiccup gave the Brewers a chance to pull even in the series.

Then a walk from Brandon Crawford, a single from Slater, a single from Stephen Vogt and a stunning error by Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain allowed the Giants to knot the score in the top of the ninth.

Crawford may have started the Giants’ rally with his plate appearance, but he also gave the Brewers’ game-winning rally life as he booted a routine groundball to open the bottom of the ninth.

With two outs, Gamel came to the plate and drilled a double into the right-field corner off reliever Reyes Moronta to score Ryan Braun and hand the Giants a brutal late loss.

The Giants entered the day with a league-leading 17 homers in the month of July, but their streak of 13 consecutive games with a home run came to an end against Milwaukee.

Slater, who posted a 1.561 OPS in his first six games this season, began the game on the bench because manager Bruce Bochy wanted to load his lineup with lefties against tough Brewers right-hander Zach Davies. With Davies out of the game by the seventh, it was Slater’s turn to shine.

His first-pitch double off Alex Claudio injected life into the visiting dugout and set the stage for a bullpen that’s been strong for much of the season to secure a series victory.

Reliever Tony Watson encountered immediate trouble in the bottom of the seventh, but with runners on the corners and one out, the lefty induced a 6-4-3 double play with Ryan Braun at the plate to escape a difficult situation.

The Brewers’ lineup appeared to be on the verge of breaking through for much of the night as Milwaukee’s hitters ran several deep counts against starter Madison Bumgarner, who needed 103 pitches to navigate through five challenging innings.

The Giants ace never had a clean frame against Milwaukee, but he didn’t allow any earned runs in his first start after taking a 98.3-mile per hour line drive off his pitching elbow against the Cardinals last Saturday. The only run the Brewers scored against Bumgarner came in the bottom of the fifth when second baseman Joe Panik misplayed a grounder hit by right fielder Christian Yelich.

Panik’s bobble allowed Davies to score the game-tying run after Davies doubled to left field with one out in the fifth.

Bumgarner kept the Brewers scoreless through four innings, but he needed the help of his defense to accomplish that feat. In the bottom of the fourth, the Giants executed a flawless 8-6-2 relay following a double by catcher Manny Pina that resulted in an inning-ending out at the plate.

Center fielder Kevin Pillar corralled Pina’s double in the left-center-field gap, fired a throw to shortstop Brandon Crawford who turned and delivered a one-hopper to catcher Buster Posey. Crawford’s throw pulled Posey toward the third base side of home plate, but he scooped the ball and laid down a perfect tag on Mike Moustakas who attempted to sneak across the front side of the plate with a headfirst slide.

Posey’s effort to finish the relay continued a strong defensive series for the catcher as he also threw out Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain at third base to end the first inning a night after he caught Cain stealing with a laser of a throw to second base.

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