05/28/08 1:31 AM ET
Long ball hurts Haren in loss to Giants
Right-hander has off night, allows red-hot Molina to go deep
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
It wasn't the pitch that Bengie Molina hit for a three-run homer in the third, but rather the one two pitches before it that changed the complexion of the game.
With an 0-2 count on Molina, D-backs starter Dan Haren threw pitch that was almost in the dirt.
Somehow, some way, Molina was able to tip the ball.
"Actually I went down to block the ball," catcher Miguel Montero said. "That ball was in the ground, and he still fouled it off."
Haren then missed with a pitch to run the count to 1-2 and decided to come back with a split.
"I felt if I could get one just a little lower I could get him to swing," Haren said. "But it was more in the same spot, if not a little higher. He put the bat on the ball, and he's hot right now, and he's not missing much."
Molina clubbed the ball into the seats in left to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.
"Good low-ball hitter," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said of Molina, who was 15 for his last 23 coming into the game. "[Haren] was trying to bounce it there, and it was probably knee-high or just above the knee to a guy who is smoking hot right now."
Of course, if he doesn't tip that ball, it's a strikeout, the third out and the game is still scoreless.
"Just got a piece of it," Haren said. "That's the way it goes. If he swings and misses there, it's a completely different game, but I did what I could to try and keep us in there. I gave up five runs; I felt like I could have given up a lot more."
Haren (5-4) has now lost three of his last four starts. The right-hander wound up allowing nine hits over six innings.
"I had great stuff," he said. "My stuff has gotten progressively better as the season has gone on; unfortunately, I haven't put it all together out there. I'm feeling really good, but I'm not getting the results. But it's a long season, and we're only a third of the way through I'm not really worried about much."
The D-backs got their first look this year at Tim Lincecum, and would be pleased if they never saw him again.
Lincecum (7-1) held the D-backs to one run on four hits through the first seven innings before tiring a bit in the eighth and giving up a pair of runs.
"You look at his stuff and it's off the charts," Melvin said. "After about the third inning, we got into some decent counts, and when we did get a pitch to hit, we were missing them."
Conor Jackson and Orlando Hudson were the only players with more than one hit off Lincecum.
"He's got good stuff," Jackson said. "From what I saw tonight, that's the best arm I've seen all year, no doubt. You've got to almost hit a ball right down the middle. You're going to pop up the ball at your bellybutton, which we all did tonight, and the one down, it's coming in at 98 [mph], you're not going to put too much good wood on it. Even the ones down the middle are coming at 98. He's good, man."
The D-backs are not right now, as they've lost seven of their last 10. Home had been a refuge for them, as they had won six of their last seven games at home.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.