SAN FRANCISCO Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesnt know all the candidates for National League Rookie of the Year.
He likes his guy, and 26-year-old right-hander Dereck Rodriguez delivered perhaps his best performance yet on Monday night, but the Giants couldnt cash it for a victory against the World Series champion Houston Astros.
Marwin Gonzalez spoiled the night for most of 40,251 fans at AT&T Park, crushing a three-home home run off reliever Will Smith with two outs in the top of the ninth, and the Astros escaped with a 3-1 win.
No one feels worse than me right now, said Smith, who walked two batters to set up Gonzalezs home run. Just didnt have it tonight.
But Rodriguez did. Again. He allowed three hits through seven scoreless innings none of them after the third inning to out-duel Astros 12-game winner Charlie Morton. He tied a career-high with seven strikeouts before sitting down after 94 pitches.
Brandon Crawfords two-out home run in the sixth inning positioned the Giants to win for the ninth time in Rodriguezs past 10 starts.
He did awesome, Crawford said of Rodriguez, signed by the Giants in the offseason as a minor-league free agent. Hes been such a big piece for us, coming up out of nowhere it seems like, just putting good game after good game together.
Rodriguez, the son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, said its his nature to keep his emotions in check, even against the reigning world champs.
After every start, I enjoy it, I think about it. When Im out there its just me, Buster (Posey) and the hitter, he said. I have all the confidence in the world. Its awesome being in the situation Im in.
Rodriguez, whose 2.34 earned run average is the best of any NL rookie, has impressed manager Bochy since his May 29 debut.
While admitting hes not well-informed about the competition, Bochy suggested Rodriguez will be part of the NL Rookie of the Year conversation.
Hes right up there with any rookie pitcher, Bochy said. We keep talking about what a great job hes done and he keeps getting better.
It was a beautiful game he pitched. Couldnt be prouder of him.
The Rookie of the Year frontrunner is likely Nationals 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto, who is batting .310 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 66 games.
The Astros arrived in town for a two-game set without most of the big names that helped them become world champs a year ago.
Outfielder George Springer, MVP of the World Series, was placed on the disabled list with a dislocated thumb. He joins four other Houston players on the DL, including 2017 National League MVP Jose Altuve (knee) and 2017 All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa (lower back soreness).
The Giants did little against Morton, who had a no-hitter until Evan Longoria blooper a single to right with two outs in the fourth. Morton allowed just three hits while striking out eight, but Crawford sent a 2-2 pitch onto the right-field landing in the sixth for his 11th homer of the season.
Morton had struck out the two previous hitters on fastballs, but Crawford connected on a curve.
When somebody has a fastball like that you have to respect it and look for it, he said. That was just reaction.
* If former five-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen is worried about his future with the Giants, he isnt giving it away.
During his nine seasons with the Pirates, including a National League MVP campaign in 2013, McCutchen never had to ponder the possibility he would be traded. He was a Pittsburgh fixture.
As the Giants teeter between playoff contender or outsider in the final two months of the season, McCutchens name has emerged as one who could be moved if the team fades. The 31-year-old is a free agent at seasons end and he has value.
Its not strange at all, thats baseball. Its just the way it goes, McCutchen said of the uncertainty that looms over him. At the end of the day youre still playing the game you love. Im not focused on the future because thats not promised. Im enjoying where I am now. Its been a fun run.
* Pablo Sandoval was scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday morning to repair his injured right hamstring, manager Bruce Bochy confirmed.
Sandoval suffered the injury Sunday, ending a season where earned a roster spot in spring training, then batted .248 with nine home runs and 40 RBI while helping out at both third and first base.
Just a bad break for him, bad break for us, Bochy said. This guy really did a terrific job in different roles for us. Was always in the same mood every day. Hes a big part of this club, his energy, his passion. That were going to miss.
* First baseman Brandon Belt (hyper-extended right knee) took ground balls before the game for the second straight day and said hes hoping to come off the disabled list sometime this week. Bochy projected likely another week before Belt is ready after being injured on July 25.
Belt was wearing a protective brace on his right knee, but said hes feeling no pain.
* Right-hander Jeff Samardzija (shoulder inflammation), who last pitched on July 14 and is serving his third DL stint this season, threw 30 pitches on Monday, will throw again Thursday, then face batters in a simulated game early next week, Bochy reported.