During the last week on the road, the SF Giants played their opponents tough, dropping all four of their losses by one run each and putting up multiple threats in each game but getting burned by late bullpen failures.
Friday, at the start of an eight-game homestand, the offense sputtered against the second-worst team in the Major Leagues and the Giants lost the opener to the Cincinnati Reds, 4-2.
Giants starting pitcher Alex Cobb got into trouble in the second, allowing two runs on an infield single (that probably should have been ruled a throwing error on Brandon Crawford) and a pair of run-scoring doubles. Another infield hit, put in play with two outs by former Giant Aramis Garcia, nearly led to a third run, but Brandon Belt made a heads-up throw home to nab Nick Senzel trying to score from second on the slow grounder.
After putting runners on in the second and third, the Giants finally broke through in the fourth inning on Evan Longoria's sixth home run of the season, a solo shot.
Multiple former SF Giants were integral to the Reds win
The Reds answered back in the fifth, getting things started on a catcher's interference error called on Curt Casali to put Senzel on base. After a one-out walk, Cincinnati executed a double-steal with former Giant Donovan Solano at the plate. Solano put the next pitch in play, on the ground to a drawn-in Crawford, but the Gold-Glove shortstop made another errant throw and Senzel scored as Casali couldn't handle the ball in the dirt.
Cobb exited the game after that run and John Brebbia got out of the two-on, one-out jam. Brebbia gave way to Jake McGee for the sixth, and the southpaw allowed a leadoff double, groundout to the right side and single to make it 4-1 in favor of the visitors.
San Francisco's offense continued to be held down by Reds starter Graham Ashcraft, a 24-year-old righty making his seventh big-league appearance. Finally, it appeared the Giants would rally in the eighth as Wilmer Flores pinch-hit and singled, followed by a Casali base hit. A double play curtailed the threat and the hosts were only able to pick up one run, with Mike Yastrzemski singling in Flores with two out.
In a two-run hole in the ninth, the Giants saw old friend Hunter Strickland enter from the Reds bullpen. The big righty got a couple of flyouts before issuing a walk, then struck out Crawford to end the game.
Thanks to a Los Angeles win in Atlanta - where the Giants just dropped three out of four games - San Francisco dropped to 6.5 games back in the NL West with Friday's loss. They'll look to get back into the win column Saturday afternoon against Cincinnati.