SAN FRANCISCO — Manager Dale Sveum is quickly tiring of the mental mistakes that are costing the Chicago Cubs in close games.
This time, in the team’s 11th straight road loss, the culprit was shortstop Starlin Castro.
The Cubs missed chances against Ryan Vogelsong in a 3-2 loss Monday to get swept by the San Francisco Giants, dropping the four games by a combined five runs.
Leading by one with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija induced a groundball by Brandon Crawford. Second baseman Darwin Barney flipped the ball to shortstop Castro at second, but he didn’t attempt a throw to first and instead began trotting toward the dugout thinking the inning was over.
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“That kind of thing can’t happen because it’s very embarrassing for me, my teammates, the manager, everybody,” Castro said.
The Giants tied it on that play.
“It’s something that’s obviously unacceptable at any time,” Sveum said. “Whether we could have turned the double play or not is irrelevant to not knowing how many outs there are in the most important part of the game. These things have got to stop happening or he’s going to stop playing. These kind of things are things that my son does in high school maybe.”
Vogelsong won his fourth-straight decision after Buster Posey scored the go-ahead run on a double-play groundball by Joaquin Arias in the seventh inning.
San Francisco’s starters have gone seven straight games pitching seven or more innings while allowing two or fewer runs, just the second time it has been done since the franchise moved West in 1958. Giants pitchers accomplished the feat in nine consecutive games from July 1-10, 1988, according to STATS LLC.
In this series, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Barry Zito had won before Vogelsong’s impressive performance on a rare wraparound getaway game on a Monday.
“You don’t want to be the weak link,” Vogelsong said. “Three games like that, I don’t want to be the guy who doesn’t come through. It’s a tough act to follow those three guys, those three outings.”
Crawford hit an RBI double and drove in another run on a fielder’s choice to back Vogelsong (4-2), helping the Giants to their season-best fourth straight victory.
San Francisco (31-24) moved a season-best seven games over .500. The Giants began the day trailing National League West-leading Los Angeles by three games. The Dodgers won their night game at Philadelphia, 4-3.
Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol (0-2) was hit with a line drive on Angel Pagan’s infield single in the seventh but stayed in the game after being checked out, then walked Brandon Belt on four pitches to load the bases for Arias.
Pagan singled in the fifth to extend his home hitting streak to 28 games, the longest in franchise history since 1900. He tipped his batting helmet and clapped his hands at first base in appreciation following a warm ovation from the sellout crowd of 41,524 on a day that began with sporadic rain in the early innings after the tarp came off late morning.
The Giants completed the club’s first sweep of the season in its fifth try. San Francisco pulled off its first four-game sweep of Chicago since June 17-20, 1999, at Candlestick Park.
“Pitching was just outstanding,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We scratched and clawed for the runs we got. These games could have gone either way.”