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Giants' offense awakens too late vs. Bucs

August 9, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- If the Giants are going to get back into the postseason chase in a serious way, they are going to have to find their missing offense.Thursday's 10-5 loss in a series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates at AT&T Park was an ugly one, and not just because

SAN FRANCISCO -- If the Giants are going to get back into the postseason chase in a serious way, they are going to have to find their missing offense.
Thursday's 10-5 loss in a series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates at AT&T Park was an ugly one, and not just because of the two errors and five unearned runs that blew the game open in the seventh inning.
San Francisco didn't have a hit in the first four innings, then got three in the fifth off Pirates starter Ivan Nova, a triple by Alen Hanson driving in one run and setting up another. And then the Giants didn't get another hit and had just one more baserunner before scoring three runs in the ninth.

The failure to hit early is not a new phenomenon. Nine times since the beginning of July the Giants have gone into the fourth inning without a hit.
"It's just baseball," leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen said. "You go through spells. We've got to shake it off."
Zito sings anthem, tosses first pitch
The fourth-place Giants are now two games under .500 at 57-59 and seriously need to think about getting back to .500 before looking at the bigger picture. There are three teams in front of them in the National League West race, and there are seven teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race.
"We had a hard time getting it going early," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's got to happen early. We've got to get this thing going early. We've talked about it. It has been an issue. You talk about it, and the guys are well aware of that, but there is no easy solution.
"We are having a hard time early. We have been shut down too often in the first four or five innings. We made it a ballgame, but we had trouble getting it going early."

Victimized by that was starting pitcher Andrew Suarez, who gave up homers on back-to-back pitches to Elias Diaz and Josh Bell in the second inning. Suarez recovered to throw shutout ball through the fifth, at which time the Giants scored twice.
"We can't think about that," the left-hander said. "Our job is to keep it as close as possible. If we keep it close, they're eventually going to start hitting."

And they did, but not until the ninth inning, by which time the Pirates had mushroomed the lead to 10-2 thanks in large part to five unearned runs in the seventh. The Giants' defense made back-to-back errors behind reliever Mark Melancon to begin the inning, which spiraled badly from there.
"We put Mark in a tough position there, with men at second and third," Bochy said. "He got one big out and had two strikes on the next guy."
But hits from Adam Frazier and Gregory Polanco broke the game open. Then reliever Derek Law gave up a three-run bomb to David Freese.

SOUND SMART
The Giants are 8-for-their-last-40 (.200) with runners in scoring position. They had three hits with RISP Thursday, but two of them came with two out in the ninth inning.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With his old team in town, McCutchen had a big day defensively. He started the game by throwing out Frazier at second base, denying his bid for a double.

Then in the sixth inning he made a diving catch to take extra bases away from Diaz.
"It's not different," McCutchen said. "You just try to make the big play when you can."

HE SAID IT
"The energy and effort early on didn't look like it was there, but we got it back in the fifth. So it was there." -- Bochy
UP NEXT
Left-hander Derek Holland, who starts Friday's 7:15 p.m. PT contest at AT&T Park, has only one prior appearance against the Pirates, but it was a big one. Back on May 13, he threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings to end a six-game Giants losing streak. He'll face rookie Clay Holmes.

John Hickey is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.