After eight innings of offensive frustration and futility Sunday, the Giants loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, allowing manager Bruce Bochy to send up pinch hitter Buster Posey representing the tying run. Posey, though, rolled a 1-1 pitch from Arizona reliever Daniel Hudson to third baseman Jake Lamb, who stepped on third and threw to first for a game-ending double play.
It was a fitting end to the Giants’ 4-0 loss, in which they grounded into five double plays, and to a series in which they totaled two runs while being swept in three games.
Coming off a 4-2 trip, the Giants extended their losing streak at AT&T Park to eight games, their longest at home since an eight-game skid Sept. 7-15, 1993, at Candlestick Park.
The Giants hit well enough in Philadelphia and New York, beating touted young Mets starters Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, to make their offensive woes over the weekend seem surprising and sudden. Facing three less-heralded starters in Arizona’s Chase Anderson, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, the Giants went a combined 14 for 88 (.159) in the series and were shut out twice.
The five double plays the Giants grounded into Sunday were their most since April 16, 2011, and accounted for three innings in which they put a runner on third with fewer than two outs and didn’t score. Casey McGehee hit into two double plays – his first nullifying a bases-loaded situation in the first inning – and leads the majors with 14. Nori Aoki, Justin Maxwell and Posey grounded into the others.
Maxwell dropped a routine fly ball in center field that allowed an unearned run in the sixth, and shortstop Brandon Crawford made two errors on one play in the second – bobbling a grounder, then making a wild throw to first – that gave Arizona its first run.
It all added up to what manager Bruce Bochy called “one of our ugliest games, no getting around it.”
The weekend began with Bochy grumbling about scheduling that had required the Giants to play a night game in New York on Thursday and take an overnight flight home before facing the Diamondbacks on Friday evening. The effects of that quick turnaround seemed to last throughout the series. Bochy sat several of his regular starters Sunday, resting Matt Duffy and Posey and giving slumping Angel Pagan a day off for a “mental break.”
With outfielders Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco injured, Maxwell made his first center-field start for the Giants, Jarrett Parker took over in right for his second major-league start, and the middle of the order consisted of Brandon Belt, Crawford and McGehee. Bochy, though, did not attribute the shutout loss to the lineup construction.
“We had some good hitters in the middle of the order,” Bochy said. “We’re in a situation, we had some guys that needed a day off, no getting around it. They needed a break.”
Parker, who was called up while the Giants were in New York, recorded his first major-league hit with a fifth-inning single. He said his parents, Gregory and Deborah, were in attendance, adding, “When 41,000 people stood up and clapped, it hit me for a second.”
The fans had little else to cheer for after the first inning, when they showered starter Chris Heston with a loud round of applause. Heston was making his first start since throwing a no-hitter against the Mets on Tuesday, but for as clean as the basepaths were that night, Heston found them just as crowded Sunday. He gave up seven hits, walked four and hit a batter, and departed after throwing 102 pitches in five innings.
“He worked hard, made a few more mistakes than normal, a couple 0-2 mistakes unlike him,” Bochy said. “But still, he did enough there to keep us in the game. We’ve got to find a way to get some runs.”
That has not been a problem this season on the road, where the Giants are 18-13 and have scored the third-most runs – 160, more than five per game – in the majors. At home, it’s a different story: The Giants have averaged a tick under three runs per game and are 16-17.
Asked how the Giants can improve their home record, Crawford said bluntly: “Play better baseball. Play like we do on the road.” He added that he believes “if we can get the bats going, I think we’ll be all right.”
Bochy pointed out the Giants went through a similar rut earlier this season, losing six of their first seven games at home, and corrected it.
“You put your big-boy pants on, come out and be ready to go tomorrow,” Bochy said. “This was not pretty, no getting around it. We’ve got to tighten things up.”