ST. LOUIS -- Hunter Pence was baseball's iron man. Now he's headed to the disabled list for the third time.
An MRI revealed that Pence has a "moderate oblique strain," and he's expected to miss at least two weeks. Pence will be placed on the DL on Thursday when Nori Aoki is activated from the 7-day concussion DL.
"It's a tough time of year to lose one of your best players," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's so inspiring and the energy he brings, it's obvious that's a tough one for us."
Pence said he has never had an oblique injury so he's not quite sure how it will respond. Giants doctors told him it could have been worse, and the hope is that he's ready the first week of September. Pence has already missed 66 games this season with left wrist and forearm injuries, but he said he isn't frustrated by the run of bad luck.
“You have a choice with everything that happens. It’s how you respond," Pence said. "I can’t do anything with what happened, but I can respond. My choice is to respond.”
The Giants certainly responded Tuesday, beating the first-place Cardinals 2-0 in their first game without Pence.
"I'm proud of the guys," Bochy said. "Nobody was talking about it and they put together a good ballgame."
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants blank Cardinals, Vogelsong goes six scoreless]
Word of Pence's diagnosis started to spread through the clubhouse after the game. The Giants are losing their No. 5 hitter, a slugger with a .806 OPS and nine homers and 40 RBI in 52 games. They'll miss Pence's presence in the lineup, but also his defense in right field and his leadership between the lines. Ryan Vogelsong, Tuesday's winning pitcher, said the team will just keep churning forward.
"Going back a few years, we've had different situations where we lose guys to injuries," Vogelsong said. "Obviously we lost Melky (Cabrera) to other reasons. But you have to find a way to play. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. We're going to be tested again and we have to do it."
The Giants need only to look across the field to see how a team can respond. The Cardinals are baseball's best team, but they've been playing without ace Adam Wainwright and big contributors Matt Adams, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Randal Grichuk. They lost Jason Heyward to an injury during this series and played a man short Tuesday, like the Giants did.
Bochy said there wasn't much consideration given to adding a player just for Wednesday's series finale. Asked about having a three-man bench, he smiled.
"I've got Bumgarner," he said.