Giants observations: Cueto hit hard in SF's fourth straight loss

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What we learned as Giants lose fourth straight game originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The road to first place over the last three months was paved in part by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the Giants couldn't make it 10 straight wins over the NL West's worst team on Thursday night. 

The Giants lost 5-3 at Chase Field, extending their skid to a season-high four games. They had won nine consecutive games over the Diamondbacks dating back to last Sept. 5, but Johnny Cueto struggled and the lineup couldn't come back against a Diamondbacks bullpen that has grown accustomed to blowing leads -- on the rare occasions that they are handed them. 

Chase Field was live early on, with the Giants getting homers from Mike Yastrzemski and Wilmer Flores and the Diamondbacks countering with a pair of their own off Cueto. The Giants couldn't get much going against Merrill Kelly, but the first two runners reached off Joakim Soria in the ninth. After Donovan Solano hit into a double play, Darin Ruf struck out. 

If you would like to read more about this type of game, here are three more things to know:

Whoa, Wilmer

Three nights after Brandon Crawford hit his longest homer of the Statcast Era (which started in 2015), Flores did the same. Flores hit a two-run shot in the fourth that was estimated at 429 feet, seven feet longer than his previous high.

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Flores isn't moving particularly well right now, but he has a hit in 14 of his last 17 games, with five homers during that stretch. He's batting .357 over those 17 games. 

Under the Weather

Cueto has been fighting a cold in recent days, and he certainly looked to be laboring at Chase Field. He gave up two homers -- including Josh Reddick's first of the year -- and was charged with five earned runs in five innings. He allowed six hits, walked two and struck out five. Cueto was coming off a dominant start against the A's but got just five swinging strikes on 90 pitches. 

Reddick's go-ahead homer came immediately after a David Peralta triple on a near-collision in left field. Steven Duggar and Alex Dickerson both sprinted toward the ball and Duggar peeled off at the last second, with the ball bouncing away as Peralta rounded the bases. It was a smart play, and probably saved the Giants from another injury given how hard both outfielders were going.

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Cueto's biggest mistake came with Kelly at the plate. The opposing pitcher had been 1-for-77 as a big leaguer but he blooped an RBI single into left in the second inning to give the Diamondbacks a 2-1 lead. 

A Hidden Strength 

People generally only talk about relievers when they blow a game, but the Giants bullpen has quietly become a strength over the past month and has been particularly stingy on this road trip. Giants relievers pitched six perfect innings in the two games at Dodger Stadium and got to 8 2/3 hitless innings on the trip before Reddick's single with two outs in the eighth.

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Jose Alvarez took over for Cueto and had a 1-2-3 sixth inning, his 12th scoreless appearance in his last 13. Alvarez threw 10 1/3 scoreless innings in June. Jarlin Garcia worked around a walk and a stolen base in the seventh and John Brebbia struck out three of the four batters he faced in the eighth. Brebbia has a 1.80 ERA since coming back from Tommy John surgery last month.

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