SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy gave Buster Posey orders to take it easy on the bases Wednesday, so naturally, Posey was sent home on Brandon Crawford’s double in the first inning.
Posey and his stiff back did not run out of gas. The Giants did. Again.
Matt Cain blew a four-run lead, it turned into a deficit when Bochy left him in too long, and the Giants couldn’t put the finishing touches on a comeback. They lost 6-5 to the Pirates, getting swept for the third time since the All-Star break. They have just one series victory over that span, going 9-21.
The result was familiar and so was Cain’s fifth inning. He breezed through the first four, but a hit-by-pitch and three walks got the Pirates going. Cain briefly lost his release point and his command, and Bochy thought he saw signs that it was returning as the bullpen got warm in a hurry. So he stuck with Cain and he got burned, with Andrew McCutchen capping the six-run inning with a two-run blast to left.
In a skid that has consumed the Giants’ season, even a manager headed for the Hall of Fame has not become immune.
“I probably stuck with him a little long there, being honest,” Bochy said. “I felt he had enough to get through it. It didn’t play out. That’s a tough one for us.”
For the Giants, the day would get tougher. They took soft swings for most of the heart of the game, failing to add to a lead built on Angel Pagan’s bat, Posey’s legs, and Crawford’s ability to come up with big hits.
In the ninth, however, the offense came to life. Eduardo Nuñez drew a walk and Pagan and Brandon Belt blooped singles that loaded the bases. But Posey hit into a double play (scoring one) and Crawford flied out.
“You couldn’t ask for more than what we created there,” Bochy said. “We just couldn’t finish it.”
The failed rally left the clubhouse quiet. It is a group that has spent weeks now looking for the win streak that turns the tide, and there’s no sign that it’s coming. When the Giants were pitching well, they couldn’t hit. Now they’ve picked it up with the bats and they can’t pitch their way to wins.
“Definitely with everything going on, we didn’t need that to happen today,” Cain said. “It’s a bad job by me.”
The result was a second straight rough outing, and a likely break. Bochy was already considering skipping Cain’s next start so that Matt Moore starts against the Dodgers and it now seems a lock. Would that disappoint Cain?
“Yeah, it definitely would,” he said. “Those are big games in Los Angeles. Those are games you want to compete in, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do right now to get back on track.”
Cain told the media he had not been informed of a decision one way or the other, but it appears that changed shortly after he was done speaking. On his way out of the ballpark, Cain was called into a meeting with Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti.
--- If you need a pick-me-up (and let's face it, you do) I taped a podcast with Ryan Vogelsong, who has a future in TV if he wants it. You can stream it online here or download it on iTunes here. We talked about his start Monday night, watching the Giants from a hospital bed, what the Pirates think about Madison Bumgarner, and much more.