It was easy to finger pitching as the primary culprit as the Giants lost for the fifth time in six games. They couldn't hold a 3-2, sixth-inning lead, and relievers Josh Osich and Hunter Strickland combined to enable New York to break a 3-3 tie in the ninth on Neil Walker's two-out single.
The Giants actually did just as much to win the game as to lose it. Starter Matt Moore, who entered the game with a 6.75 ERA, left it with one out in the sixth and a 3-2 lead. Hunter Pence and Buster Posey homered, always a welcome rarity for the Giants. But San Francisco sustained no offense aside from the outbursts of power.
"We did a lot of good things today," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "But the walks caught up with us."
In fact, those free passes, which forced pitchers to work under duress in the preceding series at Cincinnati, again spoiled an otherwise solid performance by the recent winners of three World Series. Giants pitchers walked four batters; twice, the recipient was Michael Conforto, who scored both times.
"We walked 12 in Cincinnati in one game, so this is something we have to fix," Bochy said. "We have to stay away from shooting ourselves in the foot."
The Giants desperately tried to remain competitive, using their most effective setup relievers in the eighth and ninth innings. Derek Law, who compiled a 0.93 ERA in his previous 10 appearances, escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth by inducing Asdrubal Cabrera's double-play grounder.
But after Law departed for a pinch-hitter, Osich walked Conforto to open the ninth.
"The leadoff walks are dangerous. They're hard to overcome," Bochy said.
Two outs later, Bochy summoned Strickland, owner of a tidy 0.82 ERA. Strickland couldn't field Wilmer Flores' sharp comebacker, which went for a single. That advanced Conforto to second base, from where he scored easily on Walker's drive.