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Giants' offense cooled by rookie starter

MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Giants were leading by one in the bottom of the fourth, but the Phillies had Odubel Herrera on third base with one out and cleanup hitter Tommy Joseph at the plate. Giants manager Bruce Bochy pulled the infield up, a strategy normally used to try to keep a run from scoring on a grounder to the infield.

He explained after what turned out to be a 5-3 loss to the Phillies on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park that his reasoning had to do more with the fact that his starter, Johnny Cueto, was pitching so well at that point than any concerns that his offense wouldn't be able to generate many runs.

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Giants were leading by one in the bottom of the fourth, but the Phillies had Odubel Herrera on third base with one out and cleanup hitter Tommy Joseph at the plate. Giants manager Bruce Bochy pulled the infield up, a strategy normally used to try to keep a run from scoring on a grounder to the infield.

He explained after what turned out to be a 5-3 loss to the Phillies on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park that his reasoning had to do more with the fact that his starter, Johnny Cueto, was pitching so well at that point than any concerns that his offense wouldn't be able to generate many runs.

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"That's just confidence in the pitcher more than what I was thinking our offense was going to do," he said.

But he's also aware his team is last in the National League in scoring, despite plating 10 runs the night before, and that to that point had only two infield hits against Phillies right-hander Ben Lively, who was making his Major League debut.

"It's always disappointing when you lose," Bochy said. "But when you get one run there until [the ninth inning], that makes it more frustrating because that's kind of been our way here: Have a pretty good game or two and then get shut out or score one. We've got to get some consistency there. The offense didn't wake up until too late."

The Giants scored twice against closer Hector Neris in the ninth and brought the potential winning run to the plate before Jeanmar Gomez came out of the bullpen to record a one-pitch save.

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Lively gave up one run on four hits in his seven innings. And the reality is that lineups often struggle against pitchers they've never seen before.

"You don't have a reference on the pitcher," Bochy explained, "his stuff, the movement on the ball. I think it's an excuse at times, because he still has to throw the ball over the plate. But he did have a little different kind of delivery. It wasn't sidearm but it was in between and the ball stayed up a lot. We had a tough time catching up with it. It was 91 [mph] and had some rising life to it.

"We couldn't figure their kid out. He had a little different arm angle. The four-seamer stayed up and had some rising life to it. We just couldn't get going. You do see it a lot. But at the same time, when pitchers are on and hitting their spots, no matter how many times you've seen them, they dominate."

Bochy took some comfort in the fact that the Giants did come back against Neris in the ninth.

"We got the winning run up there after being down four runs," he said. "That's always a good thing. It is. But we would have liked to finish the deal and find a way to win some more ballgames with this offense. We just woke up a little too late."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Giants on Saturday.

San Francisco Giants