SAN FRANCISCO -- What usually is a game of inches was decided in part by a foot.
In the fifth inning late Thursday at AT&T Park, Hunter Pence hit a dribbler up the first-base line. As he ran, the ball bounced and caught him on the left heel in fair territory. Replays were clear, only the Marlins had no use for them. Fair/foul calls inside the infield are not reviewable.
Given new life with none out and a man on, Pence stroked the first of four Giants' hits during the three-run inning off Nathan Eovaldi that eclipsed a 4-3 deficit. The 6-4 Marlins' loss was their sixth in eight games on the current West Coast swing.
"Nobody saw it," manager Mike Redmond said. "They thought it spun foul and we saw it hit him and carom foul...That's kind of that gray area we talked about because they don't have dedicated cameras on the foul lines. That's the reason those plays aren't reviewable...It was clear the ball hit him and it ended up being a big play.
What made the Pence blown call hurt all the more was that Eovaldi got ahead of leadoff man Angel Pagan 0-2 before ultimately walking him on the 10th pitch of the plate appearance. That was one of two free passes Eovaldi issued during the 4 1/3-inning outing, his shortest of the season.
All nine hits Eovaldi surrendered came on fastballs ranging from 95 to 99 miles per hour.
"Anytime I got ahead in the count it was like fastballs I was leaving up and down the middle," said Eovaldi, who didn't use the Pence play as an excuse. "It was frustrating, but I have to be able to put that to the side and make the next pitch and get an out. It took the bounce and I was waiting to field it as he ran by and he kicked it. It's unfortunate, but I have to be able to put that behind me."
Winless over his last 11 starts since beating the Marlins on Aug. 17, 2013, Matt Cain watched Derek Dietrich and Garrett Jones deposit pitches over the right-field wall in the first and second innings, respectively. The Marlins added one more in the third, when Casey McGehee doubled off the right-field wall after Cain intentionally walked Giancarlo Stanton to put men on first and second with one out.
Cain allowed just two more hits and held the Marlins to 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position through the remainder of his 7 2/3-inning outing.
Stanton accounted for one of those, ripping a two-out single in the fifth and extending his career-best hitting streak to 17 games.
Cain (1-3) now has allowed multiple home runs in three starts, tying Milwaukee's Marco Estrada, Pittsburgh's Wandy Rodriguez and Dodgers' lefty Paul Maholm, who gave up two to the Marlins on Wednesday, for most among National League starters.
Eovaldi for the third consecutive start failed to keep his opponents in the park. Parkland Douglas High School product Mike Morse as part of a three-hit, three-RBI evening in the third barreled a 99-mph fastball and drove it to the opposite field with a man on. Morse's 10th homer, a two-out shot to right, brought his team within one.
That was the fourth homer Eovaldi has allowed over his last 16 1/3 innings. He began the campaign having given up one through his first 38 1/3 innings.
The controversial Pence dribbler came on the second of three straight 97-mph fastballs. Pence turned the third (eighth pitch of the at-bat) into a single through the hole Pagan created when he took off for second and Dietrich followed to cover the bag. The next three Eovaldi fastballs the Giants put in play went for hits, including a pair of doubles.
"An out's an out, and outs are tough in the big leagues," Redmond said. "That definitely would have been a big out for us. The aftermath of not getting an out was three runs."
By the time Buster Posey came up, Eovaldi to two batters has thrown 18 pitches, more than in any of his first four innings. Posey drove the 19th into the right-center field gap to plate two.
For Eovaldi, that's back-to-back starts in which he's failed to complete more than five innings. He went six or more in each of his first seven. The rotation through the first eight games of this 11-game trip has delivered two quality starts while logging a 6.64 ERA and .327 opponents' batting average (55-for-168).
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