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Giants looking at ways to perk up offense

With key starters out due to injury, SF rumored to be interested in Utley

SAN FRANCISCO -- The cries for a hitter, any hitter, are bound to rise from AT&T Park in the near future unless the Giants can stimulate their offense with their current personnel. Such a revival has seemed unlikely since All-Star second baseman Joe Panik's back inflammation forced him onto the disabled list Aug. 2, and it seemed doubly inconceivable Wednesday as the Giants mustered five hits in a 2-0 Interleague loss to the Houston Astros.

Offense frequently begins from the top down, and it can end there, too. No longer are bunches of baserunners getting aboard for Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford to fatten their RBI totals. The top two batters in the Giants' order have combined to hit .156 (12-for-77) since Panik played his last game Aug. 1 -- a stretch that includes center fielder Angel Pagan's sore-kneed crawl toward the disabled list and left fielder Nori Aoki's possible absence Thursday and beyond. Aoki was removed from Wednesday's game with concussion-like symptoms.

"Anytime you lose three regulars, it changes your lineup," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You're going to miss those guys."

They were certainly missed against Astros starter Scott Feldman and four relievers, who combined to allow three Giants to reach scoring position.

With no compelling reinforcements available in the Minor Leagues, the Giants' braintrust is scouring the waiver wire for potential pickups to bolster the offense. Left fielder Cody Ross was such an acquisition in 2010; he proceeded to win National League Championshp Series MVP honors as the Giants surged to the World Series.

With Panik's immediate future uncertain, much speculation has fallen upon Chase Utley, the Philadelphia second baseman who's a candidate to be jettisoned as the Phillies overhaul their ballclub. Fox Sports has reported the Giants and Phillies are discussing a deal involving Utley, 36, who's batting .196 in 70 games. But he's only one year removed from his sixth All-Star season, prompting the belief he could recapture much of his dormant skill if he were to join a contender such as the Giants.

Another possible solution: Recalling catcher Andrew Susac from his Minor League injury rehabilitation assignment and installing him behind the plate, moving Posey to first base and stationing Brandon Belt in left field.

Until the Giants make a dramatic move, they're left to rely on the current contingent that must confront the formidable Washington Nationals for a four-game series starting Thursday.

Bochy cited his team's resolute attitude as a source of hope.

"It's a tough group out there," he said. "We've dealt with a lot and there's nothing you can do except keep playing and hope somebody picks us up. Injuries are part of the game. You have to deal with it."

Third baseman Matt Duffy echoed his boss.

"You don't want to make excuses," Duffy said. "We're definitely missing those guys. But every team goes through points in the season where they're not 100 percent."

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.
Read More: San Francisco Giants, Nori Aoki, Joe Panik, Angel Pagan