Not long ago the MLB Network listed the top ten shortstops in the majors and nobody with the initials Z.C. was named.
Zack Cozart, the Rodney Dangerfield of shortstops. No respect.
As have many teams this season, the San Francisco Giants felt the sting of Cozart’s reverberating bat Thursday night at AT&T Park.
Cozart’s rifle-shot double to the wall in left center field in the eighth inning broke a tie and gave the Cincinnati Reds a 3-2 victory.
AFTER DESTROYING THE GIANTS in three games last week in Cincinnati, outscoring them 31-5, the Reds used timely hitting and solid pitching to win their fourth straight of the season over the Giants. And the Reds have won 15 of their last 21 in the City by the Bay.
It was 2-2 in eighth when Scooter Gennett, who entered the game as part of a double switch, tripled off the glove of Denard Span at the right center wall.
After Billy Hamilton grounded out, Cozart drilled a 0-and-2 fastball offered up by Hunter Strickland.
AND DON’T FAULT HAMILTON for not driving home Gennett. Hamilton scored the Reds first two runs of the game. He has scored runs in 11 straight games, the most since Bip Roberts scored in 11 straight in 1991.
Reds starter Bronson Arroyo survived a bumpy start, two early solo home runs and several hard hit balls early in the game.
But he stuck around for six innings and gave up two runs and six hits.
Brandon Belt homered with one out in the first inning and Denard Span homered with one out in the fifth. But that’s all the Giants would get.
TY BLACH STARTED AGAINST the Reds last week and gave up 10 runs in three innings. On Thursday night he retired the first nine Reds.
Hamilton broke the spell leading off the fourth with a single and that man Cozart doubled to right, sending Hamilton to third. He scored on Joey Votto’s ground ball to first base.
Span’s home run in the fifth put the Giant back on top, 2-1, but Hamilton got things started in the sixth with another single.
Cozart’s grounder to second moved Hamilton to third and Votto singled to left for his 33rd RBI this season, tying the game, 2-2.
THEN CAME SOME escape acts.
Drew Storen started the seventh and retired the first two, then gave up back-to-back singles to pinch-hitter Michael Morse and Span.
Manager Bryan Price brought in lefthander Wandy Peralta and he retired Belt on a fly ball to left.
With one out in the eighth, Brandon Crawford lifted a high, high pop-up to short right. Second baseman Gennett waved everybody off and then missed the ball. He didn’t touch it. It plopped into the grass for a double.
It didn’t perplex Peralta. He struck out Christian Arroyo and ended the inning on a ground ball to first by Joe Panik.
Then came Cozart’s big hit in the eighth to put the Reds ahead and Raisel Iglesias came in for the ninth — and more excitement.
WITH ONE OUT, Nick Hundley blooped a single to center. Pinch-hitter Buster Posey line one hard to right and Scott Schebler made a superior catch waist-high after a long run.
Span then singled, his third hit, putting the tying run on third and the winning run on first.
Belt swung at the first pitch and flied to left, ending the game. Peralta was the winning pitcher and opposing batters are 5 for 49 (.102) against him and one of those hits was the pop-up double that Gennett missed.