San Francisco Giants

Home runs bite the Giants again in 7-5 loss to Reds

San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy, right, hands the ball to manager Bruce Bochy as catcher Buster Posey (28) looks on during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, July 25, 2016 in San Francisco. Peavy gave up only four hits, but three of them were two-run homers.
San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy, right, hands the ball to manager Bruce Bochy as catcher Buster Posey (28) looks on during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, July 25, 2016 in San Francisco. Peavy gave up only four hits, but three of them were two-run homers. The Associated Press

The Giants hoped a return home would help create some distance – in both senses – from an abysmal 1-7 trip to start the second half. But even the friendly confines of AT&T Park proved to be not entirely friendly.

Home runs flew Monday night as if the Giants were visiting the Reds at Great American Ballpark, not the other way around. The Reds hit three, one caught by a fan in a Giants jersey who appeared to reach over the wall to do sohaul it in. And the Giants’ second-half skid continued with a 7-5 loss to the team currently bringing up the rear in the National League Central.

With the Dodgers idle, the Giants saw their N.L. West lead dwindle to 2 1/2 games, their narrowest margin since May 18. Their lead has shrunk four games in the past 11 days.

Their undoing Monday was the same thing that haunted them through San Diego, Boston and New York. Peavy allowed just four hits but three were home runs, all two-run shots. Giants pitchers have allowed 19 homers in their nine games since the All-Star break, 16 given up by the starting pitchers.

“Just mistakes,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Pretty simple, that’s what it is. And they’re not missing them. Jake gives up six runs, he only gave up four hits, three of them left the park. That’s what power will do for you.”

Peavy did not allow a hit through the first three innings and had just issued his first walk to Joey Votto when Jay Bruce hit a drive to right-center field that was gloved by a fan in the first row of the arcade seats.

Right fielder Jarrett Parker immediately signaled he thought the fan had reached into the field of play. As the crowd booed, the Giants challenged. But after a review of 1 minute, 59 seconds, the home run call was upheld.

“You’re hoping to get a break there, but the ball cleared the wall,” Bochy said. “Parker thought he reached over and it had a chance to carom off the wall there, which would’ve been huge. But the ball cleared.”

Peavy then walked Adam Duvall and, two batters later, surrendered a two-run homer to Eugenio Suarez. The Giants took the lead back on two two-run homers of their own, by Brandon Belt in the fourth inning and Angel Pagan in the fifth.

But Peavy couldn’t hold it, allowing a leadoff double to Votto in the sixth and another home run to Bruce that ended his night. In two outings this season against the Reds, Peavy has allowed 12 hits – seven of them home runs. In his 18 other starts, he’s given up eight homers combined.

More immediately, though, Peavy has allowed five home runs in his past two starts. And he pointed out Monday night all but one has come with a runner on base – with him pitching out of the stretch. Peavy said he will consult the film to see whether something in his mechanics is slipping in the stretch.

“You can just be too fast,” Peavy said. “Really just being too quick and not letting your arm catch up and finish on the pitches. There’s no doubt about it that’s what got me in Boston, was just getting out of the stretch and not finishing the cutter.

“Tonight I don’t know how much that played a part. I haven’t gone back and watched the start. Certainly something I’m going to look for in terms of what I can shore up.”

Adding to Peavy’s frustration Monday was that outside of the home runs he was almost unhittable. He did not allow a hit in four of his five full innings, with the only baserunner reaching on a Brandon Crawford throwing error.

“To give up four hits and three of them be homers, it’s just not typical,” Peavy said. “But that’s just the way things have been going for the San Francisco Giants in general here of late. Just kind of bizarre things happening, and just testing the perseverance, patience.

“It’s obviously been frustrating, the ball that we’ve all played in the second half. That’s what makes tonight as disappointing as it was. For the boys to battle back and play, you feel like you let them down. That’s tough.”

Belt’s night was a positive for the Giants, as the first baseman had more hits (three) than in eight games on the trip, when he went 2-for-33. Bochy bumped him down to the sixth spot in the lineup and Belt responded with two singles and his 11th home run.

The Giants even had a hit with a runner in scoring position, Buster Posey’s two-out single in the first inning to score Denard Span, after going 9-for-72 in those situations their past eight games. But it was their lone such hit Monday in six at-bats.

After the second inning, the Giants did not send another hitter up with a man in scoring position. Facing a Reds bullpen with the highest ERA in the majors, the Giants managed just one hit over the final four innings – Belt’s leadoff single in the ninth.

“We need him swinging the bat,” Bochy said of Belt. “Really, I thought the guys swung the bats well tonight. They fought hard. We got down, they came right back and took the lead there. We just couldn’t hold it. You keep fighting. That’s all you can do.”

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