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Longo shows signs of life at plate in Giants loss

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN DIEGO -- Diving into the past to salvage the present, Evan Longoria was rewarded for his research on Saturday night at Petco Park.

Longoria's colossal struggles at the plate ended, at least for one game. He opened the Giants' scoring with a two-run homer in the fourth inning and added an eighth-inning double. His efforts made the game almost palatable for the Giants, who fell to the Padres, 5-4.

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SAN DIEGO -- Diving into the past to salvage the present, Evan Longoria was rewarded for his research on Saturday night at Petco Park.

Longoria's colossal struggles at the plate ended, at least for one game. He opened the Giants' scoring with a two-run homer in the fourth inning and added an eighth-inning double. His efforts made the game almost palatable for the Giants, who fell to the Padres, 5-4.

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The evening featured solid work from all three of the Giants' primary position-playing newcomers. Andrew McCutchen, who entered the game batting .204 despite his pair of game-winning hits, yanked a fifth-inning homer that reached the second deck in left field at Petco Park. Austin Jackson drilled a two-out single, the type of hit the Giants have been lacking, to drive in a fourth-inning run.

Video: SF@SD: McCutchen leads off 5th with a long ball

Longoria, however, commanded the most attention, since the depths he had reached were wholly uncharacteristic for him. The finest performer in Rays history, whom the Giants acquired in December for four players, was batting .146 with 17 strikeouts through 47 at-bats after fanning in the second inning. But Longoria connected in his next at-bat to produce his second homer of the season and a sigh of relief.

Longoria related that he recently began watching videos of at-bats dating back to his rookie season -- "all the way from 2008, '09, '10," he said -- in an attempt to reclaim his misplaced hitting skills. Then he focused more carefully on more recent seasons, like 2015-16. The latter could have been instructive, he said, because he hit 36 homers. But he observed, "What I was doing in '16 wasn't something my body was cooperating with this year." Eventually, however, Longoria found the right balance of yesteryear and now.

"It was nice to be able to take the same swing up there four times today," Longoria said. "It felt like I was consistent throughout."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy never lost faith in Longoria, though he did drop the third baseman a stop in the batting order to sixth in an effort to relieve him of some pressure.

"I've said this -- he's going to be fine," Bochy said. "I know you want it sooner than later, but let's get settled in here."

Longoria didn't quibble with descending in the batting order, saying, "The way I'm swinging the bat, it doesn't really matter."

Ultimately, another home run, this one from San Diego's Hunter Renfroe, proved to be too much for the Giants. Reliever Cory Gearrin, unscored upon in his first five appearances of the season, yielded a single to Freddy Galvis to lead off the bottom of the seventh before Renfroe belted his second homer of the season, erasing the Giants' 4-3 advantage.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A friendly bounce: What could have been a defensive disaster for the Giants became an instant highlight. The Padres had the bases loaded with two outs and one run in when Reyes Moronta relieved starter Derek Holland. Chase Headley hit a grounder that forced first baseman Buster Posey to dive to snare it. Posey only deflected the ball, but fortunately for the Giants, it rolled directly to second baseman Joe Panik. Moronta, retaining his presence of mind, hustled to first base to cover the bag and take Panik's throw for the inning-ending out.

Posey's deflection, Panik said, "saved us two runs, if not more." Regarding the quickness Moronta displayed in dashing to first base, Panik said, "He's an athlete, man. He can move a little bit."

Video: SF@SD: Moronta leaves the bases loaded in the 5th

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Leading, 4-3, in the seventh inning, the Giants lost a chance to add at least one run when Panik, tagging up from third base after tripling with one out, headed for home on McCutchen's fly ball. He slid in feet-first and was tagged out to end the inning. Believing that Padres catcher A.J. Ellis missed the tag after taking first baseman Christian Villanueva's relay, the Giants requested a replay review, which determined that the call stands.

"The call's the call," Panik said. "That's pretty much what I have to say. It happened quickly. I thought I hit home plate. I guess I didn't."

Video: SF@SD: Renfroe nabs Panik at home for DP, call stands

UP NEXT
Denied an opportunity to seek a series victory -- they won only three road series last year -- the Giants will seek a split of this four-game series behind rookie right-hander Tyler Beede on Sunday. Left-hander Joey Lucchesi will start for the Padres in the 1:10 p.m. PT encounter at Petco Park.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen