Cubs blow ninth-inning lead then rally to beat Giants

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Starlin Castro homered in the fifth and played hero in the ninth, delivering a game-winning double as the Cubs avoided what would have been an ugly loss and defeated the Giants 4-3.

The Giants scored all three of their runs off new Cubs closer Kyuji Fujikawa in the ninth, taking Matt Cain off the hook and erasing a strong outing from Carlos Villanueva.

However, Sergio Romo, who was a perfect 6-for-6 in save chances this year, couldn’t hold the lead. He surrendered a rare homer to switch-hitter Dioner Navarro — just the fourth homer he’s ever allowed to a left-handed hitter — and then gave up two more hits, including Castro’s game-ender.

Some thoughts:

– Villanueva is the game’s unluckiest pitcher 12 days in. He left with a 5-1 lead over the Braves in his first start, only to see that blown. Today, his relievers needed to get just five outs, but still couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead. That’s left Villanueva 0-0 despite a 0.64 ERA.

– Castro could have ended the game 20 minutes earlier if he wanted. Hunter Pence hit what appeared to be a rally-killing double play ball Castro’s way in the top of the ninth, but Castro, even though he was as close to third as he was to second, went with an underhand toss to Alberto Gonzalez. The relay ended up being a bit slow, allowing Pence to barely beat it out.

– Castro also chose not to run on his game-ending double to the wall in center, thinking it was a homer. It didn’t matter a whole lot — the runner at first base was the one that mattered — but the game’s outcome would have still been in doubt had David DeJesus not come all of the way around to score.

– The homer hit by Navarro was an incredible oddity. Romo had allowed just three homers in 290 at-bats against left-handers previously, and the switch-hitting Navarro had homered off righties once every 65 at-bats, compared to once every 29 at-bats versus lefties.

– Before he became a closer, Romo was really more of a righty specialist in the San Francisco pen, often sharing innings with Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez. His numbers against lefties were still terrific, but part of that is because he wasn’t typically getting to face the good ones. That’s changing now that the ninth inning is his alone, so it will be interesting to see if he proves more vulnerable to lefties.

The Royals traveled to Boston to play for 12 minutes

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The Kansas City Royals lost to the Baltimore Orioles last night. After the game they flew to Boston to play the Red Sox. They played for 12 whole minutes this afternoon, lost, and are now on their way to Cleveland to take on the Indians tomorrow. For their part the Red Sox are now heading to the airport to fly out to San Diego for a game against the Padres tomorrow.

All of this was the result of a suspended game on August 7, which was halted as the Royals and Red Sox were tied 4-4 in the top of the 10th inning. It was resumed, and concluded quite quickly, this afternoon.

When the game was suspended, Josh Taylor had just come on to pitch for Boston and Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria was ahead in the count to 2-1. It resumed at 1:05pm. Nick Dini pinch-hit for Viloria and lined out and the next two Royals batters went down in order as well.

In the bottom of the 10th Andrew Benintendi struck out, Christian Vázquez doubled, Chris Owings pinch ran for him, Sam Travis was intentionally walked and then Brock Holt singled in Owings. Game over, with the proceedings ending at 1:17 PM.

Not that it was a waste of everyone’s time. The Red Sox wisely made a fun day out of it by allowing anyone who is 18 or under to attend the game for free. All others were allowed to enter for a $5 donation to the Jimmy Fund. Concessions were dirt cheap, with sodas and hot dogs going for a buck or so. Kids were allowed to run the bases afterward and they kept the concession stands open for a good long while.

The reporters and some fans on the scene were tweeting about how great an atmosphere it was so, hey, not too bad.