Neifi Perez doesn't hit home runs very often, so Dusty Baker must really feel picked on.
"Nothing personal, I hope, but he hurt us in Colorado a few times like that in the clutch," Baker said.
In 1998 Perez hit a walk-off home run for the Rockies that sent Baker's Giants into a one-game wild-card playoff against the Cubs, a game they lost.
On Thursday, Perez was at it again, hitting a 10th-inning home run that sent Baker's Cubs to a disheartening 5-3 loss against-who else-the Giants.
Neifi Perez, you ask?
Joe Borowski, who allowed the home run, may be asking the same question.
And here's the answer:
Perez had gone 596 at-bats without a home run from the left-hand side, and 150 at-bats without any kind of home run. In fact, he had given up batting left-handed altogether earlier this season and has lost his starting infield job with the Giants.
But he was a giant Thursday, as the Cubs lost the rubber match of the three-game series in front of 39,349 fans, right before archrival Central Division St. Louis comes calling.
"It's tough to take. It's got nothing to do with the Cardinals," Baker said. "It's tough to take, period. We'll deal with the Cardinals [on Friday]."
If Thursday's loss weren't hard enough to take, the home run came off bullpen closer Borowski, who had won the game the night before and had pitched three straight hitless, scoreless innings.
After he secured the first two outs, Borowski (1-2) walked Michael Tucker and perhaps was feeling too confident knowing he was facing a .182 hitter.
"You have to think like the hitter," Borowski said. " 'He just walked a man, he doesn't want to fall behind, so look for the first pitch.'
"He guessed right."
He guessed fastball down and in.
"The way I was hitting right now, I was struggling," Perez said. "Thank God I hit that home run. I hope that ends it right now."
The end came for the Cubs with a one-two-three ninth inning against Matt Herges (1-2). Not even Moises Alou could do his imitation of Perez, as he had the night before and (almost) as he had by tying Thursday's game with a two-run homer in the seventh inning that cleared Waveland Avenue.
Without Sammy Sosa in the lineup, Alou has moved to third in Baker's ever-changing batting order. Alou had two hits and the Cubs collected eight against Giants pitchers, but the Giants had 10. Nine came off Greg Maddux. The 10th was Perez's line drive into the right-field bleachers.
Thursday was not a typical Maddux outing, although it was the 170th time he has gone without issuing a walk. He never did retire the Giants in order, threw a wild pitch to score one run and hit opposing pitcher Dustin Hermanson ("It happens," he said).
Maddux ran into control problems as the Giants took a 2-0 lead in the third inning after two outs.
J.T. Snow, hitting .228 coming into the game, singled and went to third when Marquis Grissom reached on an infield single that caromed off the glove of third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Pedro Feliz's single past Maddux's glove scored one run and the other scored when Maddux bounced a pitch toward the Cubs dugout.
The Giants increased the lead to 3-0 in the fifth when Feliz hit a monster homer to the far side of Waveland Avenue.
"I felt good, I felt like I did OK," Maddux said. "I probably could have used better pitch selection, but it didn't work out."
His teammates took Maddux off the hook by the end of the seventh inning, when Alou tied the game with his 250th homer in his 1,500th game.
Just an inning earlier Ramirez made a mad dash from second base to home when Derrek Lee's grounder squirted into short left field. But that was it for the Cubs.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun