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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Giants manager Bruce Bochy signaled to his bullpen and got no relief. Over and over.
While the Kansas City Royals showed off their late-inning heat, San Francisco's relievers melted down.
Given a sixth-inning tie to preserve, Jean Machi allowed Billy Butler's go-ahead single. Rookie Hunter Strickland then allowed Salvador Perez's two-run double and Omar Infante's two-run homer in the Giants' 7-2 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday night, which tied the World Series at one game apiece.
"I like my matchups," Bochy said. "Those are the matchups that we were trying to get. It just didn't work out. It was a tough inning for us. The bullpen had a hard time."
The lasting image of the evening for the Giants was of Strickland shouting and getting into a confrontation with Perez, then getting removed from the game.
San Francisco's bullpen had the fifth-best ERA in the majors during the regular season at 3.01, while Kansas City was 10th at 3.30. And while Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo are among the seven players who have played in all three of the Giants' postseason runs since 2010, there have been signs of unsteadiness.
Jake Peavy had retired 10 in a row before Lorenzo Cain's soft single to center leading off the sixth. Peavy walked Eric Hosmer before Machi came in, fell behind Butler 2-0 and allowed a go-ahead single to left.
Lopez retired Alex Gordon on a flyout, and Bochy brought in Strickland, who gave up Bryce Harper's third-deck home run in the NL Division Series opener at Washington and a splash shot to Harper that landed between kayaks in McCovey Cove during Game 4. Harper shouted at Strickland that afternoon. This time, the pitcher did the yelling.
He threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third, then one pitch later threw a 97 mph fastball that Perez sent to the wall in left-center on three hops.
Two pitches later, Infante deposited a 98 mph fastball into the left-field bullpen. It was the fifth home run Strickland has served up this postseason.
Strickland appeared to be shouting at himself as Perez neared the plate. Words were exchanged, and the benches emptied. No punches were thrown.
"I haven't had a chance to talk to the kid," Bochy said. "I think it was just frustration on his part. I mean, it's intense out there. He's an intense kid, and it probably got away from him a little bit. But I'll talk to him once we're done here.
"I don't see any issues from this point on. I just had to calm Strickland down. It's a big stage. A lot of emotions are going to be shown in these games, and the kid was frustrated. He'll be back out there."
By that time, the game had gotten away from San Francisco, along with the chance to become the first World Series team since the 1999 New York Yankees to open with a pair of road wins.
Tim Lincecum — remember him? — even got in the game in the seventh and left with an injury in the eighth. The two-time Cy Young Award winner was demoted to the bullpen in August because of ineffectiveness and hadn't pitched since the regular-season finale on Sept. 28.
"His lower back tightened up on him," Bochy said. "We think he'll be fine. I'll know more tomorrow, but he just had to come out. I think it's his left side, and he felt it the pitch before. He tried to stay in there, and then the next pitch he just couldn't go anymore."
Unlike two years ago against Detroit, the Giants won't sweep.
Now the Series is even as San Francisco returns home for the weekend.
"It just got away from us there in the sixth," Bochy said. "We'll regroup and get ready to go when we get home."