A Cuban flag waved in the right-field stands. Elton John's "Levon" blared from the stadium's public address system. The stage was set for a dramatic Giants' debut by Livan Hernandez.
But Hernandez, obtained by San Francisco from Florida last weekend, allowed six runs in seven innings in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I was very happy with the crowd. It was a very nice, warm gesture, especially for a player coming in for the first time," said Hernandez, a native of Cuba who defected in 1995.
Fernando Tatis had a three-run triple, J.D. Drew added a solo homer and Alberto Castillo had an RBI single for the Cardinals. Mark McGwire, who leads the majors with 37 home runs, went 0-for-2 before getting ejected in the fourth inning.
Hernandez (5-10), obtained in a trade for two minor leaguers, allowed seven hits and walked three while striking out five. He allowed just one hit in the first four innings, but gave up six runs and six hits in the next three innings.
"Livan did a great job today. We just didn't get him any runs early," said Ellis Burks, who hit his 18th homer for the Giants. "We messed up on Tatis, he hit that ball in the right-field corner and we were playing him straightaway. He caught us off guard, we didn't expect him to be able to hi a ball there."
Darren Oliver (6-7) gave up three runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings for the Cardinals. He allowed an RBI groundout by F.P. Santangelo in the fifth and was knocked out by a two-run homer by Burks in the eighth.
"(Hernandez) pitched a good game, but Darren Oliver pitched a better game," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "That was one of the best-pitched games we've seen all year."
Ricky Bottalico pitched the ninth for his 16th save in 19 chances as the Cardinals avoided getting swept in the three-game series.
After arguing for about 10 second with plate umpire Greg Bonin, McGwire was ejected for arguing a called third strike on a full count in the fourth inning. McGwire tossed his batting gloves into the stands as he left the field.
"He didn't cuss, but the umpire warned him not to stay out there," said Tony La Russa, managing the Cardinals for the first time in more than a week after being sidelined by stomach irritation. "The coaches and I couldn't get there to intervene in time."
Bonin later also ejected Giants pinch-hitter Jeff Kent for arguing a called third strike.
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