SAN FRANCISCO -- For a suddenly slumping Giants lineup coming off a shutout loss, Wednesday night didn’t provide much of an reprieve.
Pitching for the Diamondbacks was right-hander Zack Greinke, a starter they’d pursued in free agency over the winter, and who had never lost to the Giants in 10 career starts while compiling a 2.19 ERA. Greinke had struggled uncharacteristically in his first few starts this season. But Wednesday night he was sharp, weaving out of trouble in the first inning, executing pitches with runners on base, never allowing the Giants to put together a rally.
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, scored both their runs against Madison Bumgarner on one swing, Welington Castillo’s two-run homer in the seventh inning. And that proved enough to hand the Giants a 2-1 loss, their fourth in a row and seventh in their last eight games.
"It’s never fun, I don’t care what time of year it is," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We’re in a tough rut. But you’re going to go through these, I don’t care who you are. You hate to go through them."
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The Giants went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and are now 3-for-30 in those situations over their last four games. The one hit Wednesday was Angel Pagan’s soft two-out single to left-center in the seventh inning that scored Gregor Blanco, who had tripled with one out.
It knocked Greinke out of the game, but it was hardly the Giants’ first chance against the right-hander. They put the first two hitters in the first inning on base, but Buster Posey flied out and Greinke struck out Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. They put runners in scoring position in the third and fourth innings, and again in the ninth, when Matt Duffy doubled with one out off of Arizona closer Brad Ziegler.
Duffy advanced to third on a Blanco groundout. And he was left standing there as Trevor Brown, who had entered at catcher on a double-switch, struck out to end the game.
"We had a couple chances early and just couldn’t get a hit," Bochy said. "These things, they go in streaks. This is a tough one. Bum did such a great job to give us a chance to win. Made one mistake there."
Bumgarner acknowledged feeling early on like it would be a low-scoring game, and said he thought the one pitch that hurt him the most -- to Castillo -- was not a bad mistake. He was more upset about the last pitch of the previous at-bat, a cutter that ran over the plate and that Yasmani Tomas hit for a single to set up the two-run homer.
"High fastball had been working most of the night," said Bumgarner, who did not allow a hit until the fifth inning. "Maybe it just wasn’t quite high enough, maybe (Castillo) made an adjustment. I don’t know.
"That’s the way this game is, it’s a game of adjustments. And he got me."
It’s now up to the Giants’ offense to adjust, though shuffling the lineup, especially at this early point in the season, may be unlikely.
During the first week of the season, as the Giants’ offense was scoring runs in bunches, Bochy said he felt he could pull names out of a hat and put together a productive lineup. He was asked Wednesday if he might do that just to mix things up, and pointed out that the lineup has already looked different lately with regulars getting days off.
Hunter Pence did not start Wednesday, though he had a key at-bat against Greinke after Blanco’s triple in the seventh. Pence fouled off several pitches in a long at-bat before ultimately popping out. One encouraging sign for the Giants was Matt Duffy, mired in a bad slump during the last road trip, doubling twice for his second straight multi-hit game.
"We’ve been mixing it up a little bit, giving guys days off, but they are your guys," said Bochy. "You stay with them, and they’ll come out of it."