PHILADELPHIA The most dramatic trip of the season couldn't have ended any other way but in extra innings, but this time the Giants weren't the ones blasting celebratory music in the clubhouse.
The Giants fell 4-3 to the Philadelphia Phillies in 12 innings Sunday, tacking a tough defeat onto the end of a trip that already included four wins, two in extra innings.
The Giants wasted a strong outing from Barry Zito and two home runs from Nate Schierholtz, who earlier in the trip publicly expressed displeasure over his lack of playing time.
It was enough to possibly put a damper on the strong 7-2 second-half start, so manager Bruce Bochy made sure to deliver a message to his first-place team.
"Really it was a pretty good trip, close to a great trip," Bochy said. "We've got a few guys struggling with the bats, but we found a way to win two series. It's a good job by everybody, and I told them that after the game."
Bochy wanted his players to board the flight home with heads held high, and with good reason.
The Giants took two of three from the Atlanta Braves and did the same against the Phillies, but failed to close out the sweep in each series.
Zito gave up just five hits over seven innings but twice was taken deep by John Mayberry Jr. The former Stanford star tied the score with a fourth-inning homer and gave the Phillies the lead in the seventh.
"The changeup to Mayberry in the fourth inning was just a bad pitch all the way around," Zito said.
"But I tip my hat for the other one. He pulled his hands in and kept it fair."
The Giants were able to match Mayberry with their own unlikely outburst. Schierholtz homered to lead off the game and hit a two-out shot in the eighth. It was the second two-homer game of the season for Schierholtz, who lost his right-field job to Gregor Blanco shortly after his first two-home run game April 11.
That frustration boiled over last week, when Schierholtz suggested he might not have a future with the organization.
Asked if he regretted taking his thoughts public, Schierholtz said, "No, not at all, to be honest. It's part of the business, I guess."
Schierholtz was not unhappy with the team he played for, just his role with it.
"I've just been doing my best to prepare in case the opportunity comes to start," he said. "I try to put the team first and do my job and get on base. We've got a great group of guys that can go a long way. That's all that's on their minds and on my mind."
To get where they want to go, the Giants needed to start pitching better on the road. They accomplished that on the six-game trip, giving up just 18 runs. The final one, Jimmy Rollins' single off Brad Penny, brought home Carlos Ruiz with the winning run. It was a rare misstep for a bullpen that has a 1.80 ERA since the All-Star break.
Zito has been just as strong, throwing 14 innings in two starts on the trip and allowing just eight hits and three earned runs.
"To be the guy who is able to put up good starts and keep the team in the game two times, that was good," he said.
As the Giants head home for a 10-game homestand, they feel better about an offense that's riding hot streaks by Buster Posey (12 for 25, nine RBIs on the six-game trip) and Melky Cabrera (10 for 25, two homers).
Brandon Belt was 0 for 5 and went 1 for 20 on the trip with eight strikeouts. Belt is hitting .133 this month and might not get much more time to struggle.
Bochy exchanged texts with general manager Brian Sabean after the game in an attempt to figure out how to get production out of the first base position. The Giants had hoped Aubrey Huff could return today, but he developed tendinitis in his sprained right knee and left his minor league rehab assignment. Brett Pill remains in Triple-A Fresno, and the Giants have discussed the possibility of giving Pablo Sandoval more time at first base and putting Joaquin Arias at third.