SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—For a flash, it looked like the Jason Schmidt of old with five straight strikeouts in the second and third innings. Then Cleveland put together a four-run fourth, pounding the San Francisco ace just as almost everyone else has this season.
“I was right there. Then all of a sudden …,” said Schmidt, who has one win in his last nine starts. “I’m getting beat on stupid pitches. I’m getting burned. It’s just a matter of getting over the hump.”
While Schmidt (3-3) once again struggled with his command, needing 106 pitches to get through five innings, Indians starter Jason Davis provided a stark contrast with his efficiency.
Making just his second start since coming back from the minors, Davis made a bid to stay in the rotation, allowing three runs and nine hits in seven innings. He threw just 77 pitches—a number Schmidt reached with one out in the fourth.
“Jason was as efficient with his pitches as I’ve ever seen him,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He did a real good job tonight pounding the zone with his sinker.”
The Indians, who improved to 6-5 on a season-long 12-game road trip, had to sweat it out in the ninth. Bob Wickman came in with two men on and none out in the ninth and got the first two hitters to hit into run-scoring outs. After a pair of walks and a double steal, Wickman struck out J.T. Snow to end the game for his 16th save in 19 chances.
“He finds a way to get it done,” Wedge said. “He has those nerves of steel out there. He’s been in that situation lots of times.”
The Giants (25-35) lost for the 13th time in 15 games, falling 10 games under .500 for the first time since finishing 68-94 in 1996.
Even though Schmidt has been in a two-month funk, manager Felipe Alou still believed he would get a star performance from his ace. Wedge agreed, saying he was “leery” of scouting reports describing Schmidt’s struggles because he was apt to return to form at any time.
But Schmidt once again lacked his overpowering velocity.
“I had faced him before and he was a power pitcher. He used to be 95, 96, 98 (mph),” Belliard said. “Right now he’s just throwing 93, 94. That gives you more time to read his pitches.”
Schmidt walked Sizemore, who later scored on Victor Martinez’s groundout, to open a 28-pitch first inning, and then gave up a leadoff homer to Belliard in the second.
After the five consecutive strikeouts, Schmidt ran into more trouble in the fourth after walking Martinez to start the frame. Jody Gerut followed with a drive over the head of center fielder Jason Ellison, who broke in on the play. Gerut got an RBI double on the play and scored on Belliard’s double. Sizemore added a two-out, two-run double to make it 6-0.
“I saw some good things—the strikeouts, good breaking balls and even some good fastballs,” Alou said. “He is still struggling with location. … At times he was very good and other times he wasn’t.”
Schmidt lasted just five innings, giving up six hits and three walks to raise his ERA to 6.12—more than three runs higher than his 3.02 mark for his first four seasons in San Francisco.
Schmidt has a 9.33 ERA in four starts since coming off a DL stint for a strained right shoulder, but the Giants insist his struggles aren’t injury related.
“I was more of a pitcher tonight,” Schmidt said. “I threw more than just fastballs and changeups. But it all starts with getting ahead on the fastball and I didn’t.”
San Francisco got only one runner past second in Davis’ other six innings.
“I threw strikes and kept them off-balance,” Davis said. “I kept my pitch count down. That was a key after last start when I had a lot of 3-2 counts and foul balls.”
San Francisco’s starters are 1-9 with a 7.02 ERA over their last 15 games. … Omar Vizquel, playing his first series against the Indians since leaving as a free agent in the offseason, went 1-for-4 and is 1-for-8 for the series. … Giants LHP Jack Taschner, brought up from Triple-A Fresno before the game, made his major league debut with a scoreless eighth inning.