Baseball / Sports

Shake-up ongoing for Giants after 3-1 loss to Pirates

SAN FRANCISCO--The shake-up continued Tuesday at AT&T Park. Juan Perez and Travis Ishikawa--yes, that Travis Ishikawa--joined the big league club. Adam Duvall went back to Triple-A Fresno, and Tony Abreu was designated for assignment.

The latest flurry of transactions did nothing to jolt a lineup that again looked lifeless in a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the work on the edges of the roster is mostly decorative anyway. The Giants' big bats aren't hitting in unison, and so the team isn't hitting. The Giants have scored six runs in the past six games, dropping them all.

"We've got to try to get on a roll together," Buster Posey said. "We've done it before. I think we can do it again."

Posey had three hits, equaling the total of the other 10 Giants to come to the plate. None of his hits was followed by another knock.

Across the clubhouse, Michael Morse echoed Posey's message of hope. Morse had a homer but struck out in his other three at-bats. Hunter Pence has cooled off after a torrid stretch, going 3 for his last 28. Pablo Sandoval has five hits in 24 at-bats over the past seven games.

Manager Bruce Bochy has done everything he can to shake up the lineup and jolt the core group, but he has run out of answers.

"I mean it's pretty much obvious what's been happening," Bochy said. "We're sputtering here with the offense. There's not much else to say. You keep working. You hope to come out of it. We can't string together hits, and it's tough for these guys, believe me.

"I think they're pressing a little. It's tough to go through something like this, especially at home. For the life of me, I can't figure it out."

The Giants have lost 21 of 27 in front of the home fans and five straight to start this homestand. You have to go back to the first homestand in this park's history--April 11-15, 2000 -- to find one that started with five consecutive losses. There were grumbles and scattered boos Tuesday, a rarity at a park that has hosted a party for so many years.

"They care. They're frustrated," Bochy said of the fans. "You play so well for so long and it turned around, and it's not easy for them to see. They've been unbelievable. We're fortunate to still have the fans behind us. I'm sure there's frustration there."

The frustration doesn't stem from the losses, necessarily. It's the way the Giants are losing. The Giants got a strong start from Tim Hudson (three earned runs in seven innings) and wasted it, striking out 13 times against Francisco Liriano and two Pirates relievers. There have been no extended rallies during the six-game losing streak, no opportunities for the crowd to join the show.

"That's been one of our problems--we never have two or three guys hot," Bochy said. "Buster had a good night, but you've got to string together a few hits unless you get the long ball. We got one tonight."

Bochy sees several things he doesn't like. He thinks guys are pressing, and without naming names, he said he sees a lack of confidence from several Giants hitters.

"We've got to get that swagger back," he said.

With the swagger seemingly missing in corners of the active roster, the Giants have tried to inject it. Dan Uggla was added Friday but has gone 0 for 11. Duvall wasn't able to grab hold of playing time, so he was sent back to Fresno. Abreu wasn't the answer and was replaced by Perez, who at least provides speed off the bench. The biggest surprise on the transaction list is Ishikawa. The 30-year-old spent four seasons with the Giants but has bounced around baseball since 2010. He returned to the organization in April, but the Giants didn't have any plans to bring him back to the big leagues. It would have to be an emergency, team executives said at the time.

The red lights are flashing and the sirens are blaring. Bochy hoped Ishikawa could provide a boost to the bench, but he struck out to end the game.

The Giants hope to soon replace Ishikawa with Brandon Belt, who took swings Tuesday and could return to the lineup this weekend. Angel Pagan is inching closer to a rehab assignment, and his presence will help immensely. But the progress is slow, and the Giants can't tell you when their full lineup will be on the field together. In the meantime, the Giants continue to lose ground. Tuesday's loss dropped them a season-high three games behind the Dodgers.

(c)2014 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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